NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Publications by Trevor O'Grady

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March 2010Large Scale Institutional Changes: Land Demarcation Within the British Empire
with Gary D. Libecap, Dean Lueck: w15820
This paper examines the economics of large scale institutional change by studying the adoption of the land demarcation practices within the British Empire during the 17th through 19th Centuries. The advantages of systematic, coordinated demarcation, such as with the rectangular survey, relative to individualized, haphazard demarcation, such as with metes and bounds, for reducing transaction costs were understood by this time and incorporated into British colonial policy. Still, there was considerable variation in the institutions adopted even though that the regions had similar legal structures and immigrant populations. We study the determinants of institutional change by developing an analytical framework, deriving testable implications, and then analyzing a data set that includes U.S...

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