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Property Rights and Economic Growth: Evidence from a Natural Experiment


  • Brunt, Liam


In 1795 the British took control of the Cape colony (South Africa) from the Dutch; and in 1843 they exogenously changed the legal basis of landholding, giving more secure property rights to landholders. Since endowments and other factors were held constant, these changes offer clean tests of the effects on economic growth of colonial identity and secure property rights. The effects of both changes were immediate, positive and large. Other legal and institutional changes, such as the move to a common law system in 1827, had no such effects on economic growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Brunt, Liam, 2007. "Property Rights and Economic Growth: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," CEPR Discussion Papers 6404, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6404

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Constantinos Alexiou & Persefoni Tsaliki & Hashim Rasha Osman, 2014. "Institutional Quality And Economic Growth: Empirical Evidence From The Sudanese Economy," Economic Annals, Faculty of Economics, University of Belgrade, vol. 59(203), pages 119-138, October –.
    2. Catherine Paul & Marcelo O. Torres & Ronald Felthoven, 2009. "Fishing Revenue, Productivity and Product Choice in the Alaskan Pollock Fishery," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 44(4), pages 457-474, December.
    3. Pääkkönen, Jenni, 2010. "Economic freedom as driver of growth in transition," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 469-479, December.
    4. Rasha Hashim Osman & Constantinos Alexiou & Persefoni Tsaliki, 2012. "The role of institutions in economic development: Evidence from 27 Sub-Saharan African countries," International Journal of Social Economics, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 39(2), pages 142-160, January.

    More about this item


    Economic growth; Legal origins; Property rights;

    JEL classification:

    • N47 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Africa; Oceania
    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth

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