Benjamin van Rooij

Professor of Law

John S. and Marilyn Long Professor of U.S.-China Business and Law
Director, UCI Long U.S.-China Institute
Joint appointment in Criminology, Law and Society, School of Social Ecology

Co-Editor, Regulation and Governance

Editor in Chief, China Law and Society Review

Benjamin van Rooij's image

Regulatory theory, law enforcement, compliance, lawmaking, law and development, environmental law, Chinese law


Benjamin van Rooij is the John S. and Marilyn Long Professor of U.S.-China Business and Law and director of the UCI Long U.S.-China Institute. By affiliation he is Professor of Chinese Law and Regulation at the Faculty of Law at Amsterdam University and director of the Netherlands China Law Centre. Also he is honorary professor at Wuhan University School of Law and long-term visiting professor at Yunnan University School of Law. In 2010, he was visiting faculty at New York University School of Law as a member of the Hauser Global Faculty.

Prof. van Rooij’s research focuses on implementation of law in comparative perspective. Since 2000 he has studied the implementability of legislation, regulatory law enforcement and compliance, and rights invocation and legal empowerment. A central theme is how implementation of law can be improved in the context of emerging markets where weak enforcement and widespread violations of law create a vicious circle undermining compliance. Using insights from sociology of law, criminology, political science and social psychology he uses anthropological methods to study compliance behavior and motivations and public and private enforcement practices. He uses innovative fieldwork data both to seek improvement to persistent implementation problems as well as to reorient existing regulatory, criminological and socio-legal theories that so far have yet to adapt to data from countries such as China. Currently he is working on a popular science book about compliance.

Fields of law studies include environmental law, land law, labor law, food safety law, and taxation. His work has appeared in the The New York Times, Law & Policy, Law & Social Inquiry, and Regulation & Governance.

Prof. van Rooij has served as an adviser to the Dutch Prime Minister, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Dutch Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment.

Prior Courses:

Legal Profession I, Behavioral Analysis: Law Enforcement and Compliance, Access to Justice in China, Law, Governance and Development, Anthropology of Law, Law and Culture, Comparative Legal Analysis, Law and Politics in China, Pollution Regulation in Developing Countries

Recent Publications

  • Benjamin van Rooij, Weak Enforcement, Strong Deterrence: Dialogues with Chinese Lawyers About Tax Evasion and Compliance, 41 Law & Soc. Inquiry 288 (2016). 
  • Benjamin van Rooij, Rachel Stern & Kathinka Fürst, The Authoritarian Logic of Regulatory Pluralism, Understanding China’s New Environmental Actors, 10 Reg. & Governance 3 (2016).
  • Yifan Shi & Benjamin van Rooij, Prosecutorial Regulation in the Global South: Environmental Civil Litigation by Prosecutors in China compared to Brazil, 10 Reg. & Governance 44 (2016).
  • Huiqi Yan, Benjamin van Rooij & Jeroen Van der Heijden, Contextual Compliance: Situational and Subjective Cost-Benefit Decisions about Pesticides by Chinese Farmers37 Law & Pol'y 240 (2015).
  • Benjamin van Rooij & Alex Wang, China's Polluted Politics, N.Y. Times, May 21, 2014 at A29.
  • Benjamin van Rooij, Regulation by Escalation: Unrest, Lawmaking, and Law Enforcement in China, in The Politics of Law and Stability in China 83-107 (Susan Trevaskes, Elisa Nesossi, Flora Sapio & Sarah Biddulph eds., Edgar Elden 2014).
  • Benjamin van Rooij &Pip Nicholson, Inflationary Trends in Law and Development, 24 Duke J. Comp. & Int'l L. 297-348 (2014).
  • Benjamin van Rooij & L. K. McAllister, Environmental Law Enforcement Alliances in Middle Income Countries, in Law and Development of Middle Income Countries 288-306 (Tom Ginsburg & R.P. Peerenboom eds., Cambridge Univ. Press 2014).
  • Carlos W.H. Lo, Gerald E. Fryxell, & Benjamin van Rooij, Enforcement Styles: Changes Over Time, in Institutions, Regulatory Styles, Society and Environmental Governance in China 119-139 (C.W.H. Lo & S.Y. Tang eds., Routledge 2014).

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