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The Demarcation of Land and the Role of Coordinating Property Institutions

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  • Gary D. Libecap
  • Dean Lueck

Abstract

We use a natural experiment in nineteenth-century Ohio to analyze the economic effects of two dominant land demarcation regimes, metes and bounds (MB) and the rectangular system (RS). MB is decentralized with plot shapes, alignment, and sizes defined individually; RS is a centralized grid of uniform square plots that does not vary with topography. We find large initial net benefits in land values from the RS and also that these effects persist into the twenty-first century. These findings reveal the importance of transaction costs and networks in affecting property rights, land values, markets, and economic growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Gary D. Libecap & Dean Lueck, 2011. "The Demarcation of Land and the Role of Coordinating Property Institutions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(3), pages 426-467.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:doi:10.1086/660842
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ferrie, Joseph P., 1994. "The Wealth Accumulation of Antebellum European Immigrants to the U.S., 1840–60," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(01), pages 1-33, March.
    2. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2002. "Reversal of Fortune: Geography and Institutions in the Making of the Modern World Income Distribution," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1231-1294.
    3. Gary D. Libecap & Dean Lueck & Trevor O'Grady, 2011. "Large-Scale Institutional Changes: Land Demarcation in the British Empire," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(S4), pages 295-327.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Rabah Arezki & Klaus Deininger & Harris Selod, 2015. "What Drives the Global "Land Rush"?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 29(2), pages 207-233.
    2. Benito Arruñada, 2017. "How to Make Land Titling more Rational," Working Papers 983, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    3. Rick Geddes & Dean Lueck & Sharon Tennyson, 2012. "Human Capital Accumulation and the Expansion of Women's Economic Rights," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55(4), pages 839-867.
    4. Lin, Jeffrey, 2015. "The puzzling persistence of place," Business Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, issue Q2, pages 1-8.
    5. Terry L. Anderson, 2015. "If Hayek and Coase Were Environmentalists: Linking Economics and Ecology," Economics Working Papers 15102, Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
    6. Gyourko, Joseph & Molloy, Raven, 2015. "Regulation and Housing Supply," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier.
    7. repec:cbu:jrnlec:y:2017:v:3:p:68-74 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. repec:aea:aecrev:v:107:y:2017:i:6:p:1365-98 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. World Bank, 2014. "Republic of Burundi Fiscal Decentralization and Local Governance," World Bank Other Operational Studies 21714, The World Bank.
    10. Arruñada, Benito, 2017. "Property as sequential exchange: the forgotten limits of private contract," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(04), pages 753-783, December.
    11. World Bank, 2014. "Republic of Burundi Fiscal Decentralization and Local Governance : Managing Trade-Offs to Promote Sustainable Reforms
      [République du Burundi - Décentralisation fiscale et gouvernance locale : Gérer
      ," World Bank Other Operational Studies 21099, The World Bank.
    12. Castañeda Dower, Paul & Pfutze, Tobias, 2013. "Specificity of control: The case of Mexico's ejido reform," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 13-33.
    13. Arruñada, Benito, 2017. "How should we model property? Thinking with my critics," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(04), pages 815-827, December.
    14. Baruah, Neeraj G. & Henderson, J. Vernon & Peng, Cong, 2017. "Colonial legacies: shaping African cities," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 86574, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    15. Deininger, Klaus & Hilhorst, Thea & Songwe, Vera, 2014. "Identifying and addressing land governance constraints to support intensification and land market operation: Evidence from 10 African countries," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 76-87.
    16. Deininger, Klaus & Jin, Songqing & Yadav, Vandana, 2012. "Does sharecropping affect productivity and long-term investment ? evidence from West Bengal's tenancy reforms," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6293, The World Bank.
    17. Joseph Gyourko & Raven Molloy, 2014. "Regulation and Housing Supply," NBER Working Papers 20536, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Neeraj Baruah & J. Vernon Henderson & Cong Peng, 2017. "Colonial Legacies: Shaping African Cities," SERC Discussion Papers 0226, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
    19. Richard Hornbeck & Daniel Keniston, 2017. "Creative Destruction: Barriers to Urban Growth and the Great Boston Fire of 1872," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(6), pages 1365-1398, June.

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