Property Rights and Parliament in Industrializing Britain
During Britain’s industrialization, Parliament operated a forum where rights to land and resources could be reorganized. This venue enabled landholders and communities to exploit economic opportunities that could not be accommodated by the inflexible rights regime inherited from the past. In this essay, historical evidence, archival data, and statistical analysis demonstrate that Parliament increased the number of acts reorganizing property rights in response to increases in the demand for such acts. Tests with placebo groups confirm the robustness of this result. This evidence indicates that Parliament responded elastically to changes in the public’s demand for reorganizing property rights. Parliament’s efforts to adapt property rights to modern economic conditions may have accelerated Britain’s economic ascent.
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