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Land inheritance rules: theory and cross-cultural analysis

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  • Baker, Matthew
  • Miceli, Thomas J.

Abstract

This paper develops a general theory of land inheritance rules. We distinguish between two classes of rules: those that allow a testator discretion in disposing of his land (like a best-qualified rule), and those that constrain his choice (like primogeniture). The primary benefit of the latter is to prevent rent seeking by heirs, but the cost is that testators cannot make use of information about the relative abilities of his heirs to manage the land. We also account for the impact of scale economies in land use. We conclude by offering some empirical tests of the model using a cross-cultural sample of societies.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 56 (2005)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 77-102

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:56:y:2005:i:1:p:77-102

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  1. Colwell, Peter F & Munneke, Henry J, 1999. "Land Prices and Land Assembly in the CBD," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 18(2), pages 163-80, March.
  2. Bernheim, B Douglas & Shleifer, Andrei & Summers, Lawrence H, 1986. "The Strategic Bequest Motive," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(3), pages S151-82, July.
  3. Smetters, Kent, 1999. "Ricardian equivalence: long-run Leviathan," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(3), pages 395-421, September.
  4. Lee J. Alston & Gary D. Libecap & Robert Schneider, 1996. "The Determinants and Impact of Property Rights: Land Titles on the Brazilian Frontier," NBER Working Papers 5405, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Anderson, C. Leigh & Swimmer, Eugene, 1997. "Some empirical evidence on property rights of first peoples," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 1-22, May.
  6. Menchik, Paul L, 1980. "Primogeniture, Equal Sharing, and the U. S. Distribution of Wealth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 94(2), pages 299-316, March.
  7. Stodder James, 1995. "The Evolution of Complexity in Primitive Exchange: Empirical Tests," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 190-210, April.
  8. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1, July.
  9. Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1967. "Distribution of Income and Wealth Among Individuals," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 238, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  10. Liam Kennedy, 1991. "Farm succession in modern Ireland: elements of a theory of inheritance," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 44(3), pages 477-499, 08.
  11. Besley, Timothy, 1995. "Property Rights and Investment Incentives: Theory and Evidence from Ghana," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(5), pages 903-37, October.
  12. Buchanan, James M, 1983. "Rent Seeking, Noncompensated Transfers, and Laws of Succession," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(1), pages 71-85, April.
  13. Mortensen, Dale T, 1982. "Property Rights and Efficiency in Mating, Racing, and Related Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 968-79, December.
  14. William L. Miller, 1980. "Primogeniture, Entails, and Endowments in English Classical Economics," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 12(4), pages 558-581, Winter.
  15. Pryor, Frederic L, 1973. "Simulation of the Impact of Social and Economic Institutions on the Size Distribution of Income and Wealth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(1), pages 50-72, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Matthew J. Baker & Joyce P. Jacobsen, 2005. "A Human Capital-Based Theory of Post Marital Residence Rules," Wesleyan Economics Working Papers 2005-006, Wesleyan University, Department of Economics.
  2. Robert Fleck & F. Hanssen, 2009. "“Rulers ruled by women”: an economic analysis of the rise and fall of women’s rights in ancient Sparta," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 10(3), pages 221-245, July.
  3. Matthew J. Baker, 2005. "Technological Progress, Population Growth, Property Rights, and the Transition to Agriculture," Departmental Working Papers 9, United States Naval Academy Department of Economics.
  4. Matthew J. Baker, 2004. "Human Capital and Hold-ups in Indigenous Society: The Role of Customs and the Market," Departmental Working Papers 7, United States Naval Academy Department of Economics.
  5. Baker, Matthew & Bulte, Erwin & Weisdorf, Jacob, 2010. "The origins of governments: from anarchy to hierarchy," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(02), pages 215-242, June.
  6. Matthew Baker, 2008. "A structural model of the transition to agriculture," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 257-292, December.
  7. Goetghebuer, Tatiana & Platteau, Jean-Philippe, 2010. "Inheritance patterns in migration-prone communities of the Peruvian Highlands," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1), pages 71-87, September.
  8. Robert Yarbrough, 2005. "Teaching Bioeconomics," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 7(1), pages 1-38, 01.

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