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The Law of Primogeniture and the Transition from Landed Aristocracy to Industrial Democracy

  • Graziella Bertocchi

We study the connection between inheritance systems and the historical evolution of the relationship between a society’s economic structure and its political system, with a focus on Europe from feudal times. The model predicts that, in an early agrarian phase, aristocratic political systems prevail, while democracies tend to emerge with industrialization. At the same time, as indivisible landed estates are replaced by capital as the primary source of wealth, the inheritance system evolves endogenously from primogeniture to partition. The dynamics of output, distribution, class structure and political participation are in turn reinforced by the system of intergenerational wealth transmission, with primogeniture tending to concentration and partition to equalization. Copyright Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2006

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Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Economic Growth.

Volume (Year): 11 (2006)
Issue (Month): 1 (03)
Pages: 43-70

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Handle: RePEc:kap:jecgro:v:11:y:2006:i:1:p:43-70
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