Law, Endowments, and Property Rights
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.