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Law, Endowments, and Property Rights

Ross Levine

NBER Working Paper No. 11502
Issued in August 2005
NBER Program(s):International Finance and Macroeconomics, Law and Economics

While scholars have hypothesized about the sources of variation in property rights for over 2500

years, it is only very recently that researchers have begun to test these theories empirically. This

paper reviews both the theory and empirical evidence supporting and refuting the law and

endowment views of property rights. The law view holds that historically determined differences in

national legal traditions continue to shape cross-country differences in property rights. The

endowment view argues that during European colonization, differences in climate, crops, the

indigenous population, and the disease environment influenced long-run property rights.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w11502

Published: Levine, Ross. "Law, Endowments and Property Rights," Journal of Economic Perspectives, 2005, v19(3,Summer), 61-88. citation courtesy of

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