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Winners and Losers from Enclosure: Evidence from Danish Land Inequality 1682-1895

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  • Boberg-Fazlic, Nina
  • Lampe, Markus
  • Martinelli Lasheras, Pablo
  • Sharp, Paul

Abstract

There is a vast literature on the effects of land inequality and agrarian reforms, but little on the origins of this inequality. We exploit a new and unique parish-level database of land inequality in Denmark, from 1682 to 1895, during which period there was comprehensive land reform and enclosure. We demonstrate that inequality increased after land reform in areas with more productive land, measured using contemporary tax assessments. We instrument for land quality using glacial and postglacial sediment soil types. We propose a mechanism whereby agrarian reforms allowed areas with better soil quality to realize greater productivity gains. Malthusian mechanisms and internal migration then led to greater population increases in more fertile areas, leading to a larger share of smallholders and landless laborers. We present evidence for this mechanism in part from population density revealed by censuses. After the reforms, the geographical pattern of inequality remained strikingly constant, although population and inequality continued to grow throughout the nineteenth century.

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  • Boberg-Fazlic, Nina & Lampe, Markus & Martinelli Lasheras, Pablo & Sharp, Paul, 2020. "Winners and Losers from Enclosure: Evidence from Danish Land Inequality 1682-1895," CEPR Discussion Papers 14616, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:14616
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    Cited by:

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    2. Nina Boberg-Fazlić & Markus Lampe & Paul Sharp, 2021. "The Sleeping Giant Who Left for America: The Determinants and Impact of Danish Emigration During the Age of Mass Migration," Working Papers 0213, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    3. Beltrán Tapia, Francisco J. & Díez Minguela, Alfonso & Martinez-Galarraga, Julio & Tirado-Fabregat, Daniel A., 2021. "The roots of land inequality in Spain," IFCS - Working Papers in Economic History.WH 31728, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Instituto Figuerola.
    4. Eoin McLaughlin & Paul Sharp & Xanthi Tsoukli & Christian Vedel, 2021. "Ireland in a Danish mirror: A microlevel comparison of the productivity of Danish and Irish creameries before the First World War," Working Papers 0219, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    5. Kristin Ranestad & Paul Richard Sharp, 2020. "Success through failure? Four Centuries of Searching for Danish Coal," Working Papers 0183, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Denmark; enclosures; Land Inequality;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N53 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • Q15 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Land Ownership and Tenure; Land Reform; Land Use; Irrigation; Agriculture and Environment

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