Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login

Order Without Law? Property Rights During the California Gold Rush

Contents:

Author Info

  • Karen Clay

    ()
    (The Heinz School, Carnegie Mellon University)

  • Gavin Wright

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Stanford University)

Registered author(s):

    Abstract

    The paper reconsiders the nature of mining districts and property rights during the California gold rush. According to a widely accepted view advanced by Umbeck (1977, 1981), in the absence of effective legal authority, district codes established secure property rights in mining claims. Such accounts neglect essential aspects of the economic context, specifically that the gold rush approximated an open-access race for a small number of high value deposits. We show that mining district codes gave equal attention to the rights of claim-jumpers as to claim holders, a balance that in practice generated chronic insecurity and litigation. A simple game-theoretic model illustrates stylized features of the situation.

    Download Info

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
    File URL: http://www-siepr.stanford.edu/repec/sip/03-033.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research in its series Discussion Papers with number 03-033.

    as in new window
    Length:
    Date of creation: May 2004
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:sip:dpaper:03-033

    Contact details of provider:
    Postal: 366 Galvez Street, Stanford, California 94305-6015
    Phone: (650) 725-1874
    Fax: (650) 723-8611
    Web page: http://siepr.stanford.edu
    More information through EDIRC

    Related research

    Keywords: gold rush; property rights; mining districts; claim-jumping;

    References

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
    as in new window
    1. Clay, Karen, 1997. "Trade without Law: Private-Order Institutions in Mexican California," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(1), pages 202-31, April.
    2. Umbeck, John, 1977. "The California gold rush: A study of emerging property rights," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 197-226, July.
    3. Lueck, Dean, 1995. "The Rule of First Possession and the Design of the Law," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(2), pages 393-436, October.
    4. Zerbe, Richard O. & Anderson, C. Leigh, 2001. "Culture And Fairness In The Development Of Institutions In The California Gold Fields," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 61(01), pages 114-143, March.
    5. H. Scott Gordon, 1954. "The Economic Theory of a Common-Property Resource: The Fishery," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 62, pages 124.
    6. David, Paul A & Wright, Gavin, 1997. "Increasing Returns and the Genesis of American Resource Abundance," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(2), pages 203-45, March.
    7. Anderson, Terry L & Hill, Peter J, 1990. "The Race for Property Rights," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(1), pages 177-97, April.
    8. Wright, Brian Davern, 1983. "The Economics of Invention Incentives: Patents, Prizes, and Research Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 691-707, September.
    9. Greif, Avner, 1993. "Contract Enforceability and Economic Institutions in Early Trade: the Maghribi Traders' Coalition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 525-48, June.
    10. Robert A. Margo, 2000. "Introduction to "Wages and Labor Markets in the United States, 1820-1860"," NBER Chapters, in: Wages and Labor Markets in the United States, 1820-1860, pages 1-5 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1976. "Monopoly and the Rate of Extraction of Exhaustible Resources," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(4), pages 655-61, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Lists

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sip:dpaper:03-033. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Anne Shor).

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.