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Gender Discrimination in Property Rights

  • M. Casari
  • M. Lisciandra

In the Middle Ages women in the Italian Alps had substantially more rights on collective properties than in the Modern Age. The documental evidence shows a progressive erosion of women’s rights and a convergence toward gender-biased inheritance systems. We tracked the evolution of inheritance regulations on collective land in the peasant communities of Trentino over a period of six centuries (13th-19th). Considering a panel of hundreds of communities, we provide a long-term perspective of institutional change. When population pressure increased, a patrilineal system emerged as a protective measure to preserve the per-capita endowment of collective properties within a community. This study raises general issues about the role of local level versus centralized decision-making in delivering gender equality and about the long-term trade-off between the protection of common resources and a healthy genetic pool at the community level.

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Paper provided by Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna in its series Working Papers with number wp914.

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Date of creation: Dec 2013
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Handle: RePEc:bol:bodewp:wp914
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  1. Casari, Marco, 2006. "Emergence of Endogenous Legal Institutions: Property Rights and Community Governance in the Italian Alps'," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1182, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  2. Alesina, Alberto F & Giuliano, Paola & Nunn, Nathan, 2011. "On the origins of gender roles: women and the plough," CEPR Discussion Papers 8418, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Tine De Moor, 2009. "Avoiding tragedies: a Flemish common and its commoners under the pressure of social and economic change during the eighteenth century -super-1," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 62(1), pages 1-22, 02.
  4. Hansen, J.D. & Luckert, M.K. & Minae, S. & Place, F., 2005. "Tree planting under customary tenure systems in malawi: impacts of marriage and inheritance patterns," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 99-118, April.
  5. Otsuka, Keijiro & Suyanto, S. & Sonobe, Tetsushi & Tomich, Thomas P., 2001. "Evolution of land tenure institutions and development of agroforestry: evidence from customary land areas of Sumatra," Agricultural Economics of Agricultural Economists, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 25(1), June.
  6. Quisumbing, Agnes R. & Otsuka, Keijiro, 2001. "Land Inheritance and Schooling in Matrilineal Societies: Evidence from Sumatra," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(12), pages 2093-2110, December.
  7. Quisumbing, Agnes R. & Otsuka, Keijiro, 2001. "Land, trees, and women: evolution of land tenure institutions in Western Ghana and Sumatra," Research reports 121, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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