Institutional Adaptability and Economic Development: The Property Rights Revolution in Britain, 1700 to 1830
Adaptable property-rights institutions, we argue, foster economic development. The British example illustrates this point. Around 1700, Parliament established a forum where rights to land and resources could be reorganized. This venue enabled landholders and communities to take advantage of economic opportunities that could not be accommodated by the inflexible rights regime inherited from the past. In this essay, historical evidence, archival data, and statistical analysis demonstrate that Parliament increased the number of acts reorganizing property rights in response to increases in the public's demand for such acts. This evidence corroborates a cornerstone of our hypothesis.
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