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"The Bull is Half the Herd": Property Rights and Enclosures in England, 1750-1850


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  • Elaine Tan

    (Nuffield College, Oxford)


This paper proposes that one function of the open fields was to reduce the transaction costs of cow-keeping by lowering commoners’ costs of bulling. At enclosure, cow-keeping fell among small owners who, unlike large farmers, had difficulty obtaining bulling services and were not substantial enough to own both the bull and the cow; they were therefore worse off with enclosures. The minimum acreage required to restore cow keepers to their pre-enclosure economic position indicates that even commoners who were given some land at settlement lost out with the change in property rights.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford in its series Oxford University Economic and Social History Series with number _046.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: 01 Jun 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nuf:esohwp:_046

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  1. Klein, Benjamin & Crawford, Robert G & Alchian, Armen A, 1978. "Vertical Integration, Appropriable Rents, and the Competitive Contracting Process," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 297-326, October.
  2. Humphries, Jane, 1990. "Enclosures, Common Rights, and Women: The Proletarianization of Families in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 50(01), pages 17-42, March.
  3. Shaw-Taylor, Leigh, 2001. "Parliamentary Enclosure And The Emergence Of An English Agricultural Proletariat," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 61(03), pages 640-662, September.
  4. Boaz Moselle, 1995. "Allotments, enclosure, and proletarianization in early nineteenth-century southern England," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 48(3), pages 482-500, 08.
  5. Clark, Gregory, 1998. "Commons Sense: Common Property Rights, Efficiency, and Institutional Change," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(01), pages 73-102, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Regina Grafe, 2004. "Popish habits vs. nutritional need: Fasting and fish consumption in Iberia in the early modern period," Economics Series Working Papers 2004-W55, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  2. Jane Humphries, 2006. ""Because they are too menny..." Children, Mothers and Fertility Decline: The Evidence from Working-Class Autobiographies of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _064, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  3. Alexandre Debs, 2003. "The Source of Walras`s Idealist Bias: A Review of Koppl`s Solution to the Walras Paradox," Economics Series Working Papers 2003-W49, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  4. J.Humphries & T. Leunig, 2007. "Cities, Market Integration and Going to Sea: Stunting and the standard of living in early nineteenth-century England and Wales," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _066, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  5. Richard Steckel, 2005. "Fluctuations in a Dreadful Childhood: Synthetic longitudinal height data, relative prices, and weather in the short-term health of american slaves," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _058, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.


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