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Culture And Fairness In The Development Of Institutions In The California Gold Fields

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  • Zerbe, Richard O.
  • Anderson, C. Leigh
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    Abstract

    Earlier accounts of the creation of property rights in the California gold fields ignored culture and are incomplete. We argue that culture matters in solving collective-action problems. Such problems in the California gold fields were solved through reliance on cultural focal points. Focal points included individualism, equality, respect for property, and rewards commensurate to work. Cultural concepts of fairness served to create norms and institutions that miners were willing to defend, which included majority rule, election of officials, trial by jury, allocation of a first-come, first-served basis and rules for working claims.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal The Journal of Economic History.

    Volume (Year): 61 (2001)
    Issue (Month): 01 (March)
    Pages: 114-143

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    Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:61:y:2001:i:01:p:114-143_02

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    Cited by:
    1. Nathan Nunn, 2012. "Culture and the Historical Process," NBER Working Papers 17869, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Nunn, Nathan, 2014. "Historical Development," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 7, pages 347-402 Elsevier.
    3. Edwyna Harris, 2011. "Does franchise extension reduce short-run economic growth? Evidence from New South Wales, 1862-1882," Development Research Unit Working Paper Series 19-11, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    4. Leeson, Peter T., 2005. "Self-enforcing arrangements in African political economy," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 241-244, June.
    5. Carlos Álvarez, 2003. "The Role Of Institutions To Solve Sovereing Debt Problems: The Spanish Monarchy´S Credit (1516-1665)," Working Papers in Economic History wh030804, Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Historia Económica e Instituciones.
    6. Mathieu Couttenier & Pauline Grosjean & Marc Sangnier, 2014. "The Wild West is Wild: The Homicide Resource Curse," Discussion Papers 2014-12, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.
    7. Clay, Karen & Wright, Gavin, 2005. "Order without law? Property rights during the California gold rush," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 155-183, April.
    8. Karen Clay & Gavin Wright, 2004. "Order Without Law? Property Rights During the California Gold Rush," Discussion Papers 03-033, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    9. Peter Leeson, 2007. "Efficient anarchy," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 130(1), pages 41-53, January.
    10. Kanazawa, Mark, 2006. "Investment in private water development: Property rights and contractual opportunism during the California Gold Rush," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 357-381, April.

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