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The Political Economy of Land Privatization in Argentina and Australia, 1810-1850: A Puzzle


  • Alan Dye

    (Department of Economics Barnard College)

  • Sumner La Croix

    () (Dept. of Economics University of Hawaii)


This paper examines a puzzle regarding public land privatization in New South Wales and the Province of Buenos Aires in the early nineteenth century. Both claimed frontier lands as public lands to raise revenue. New South Wales lost control of the public claim as squatters rushed out and claimed vast tracts of land. Property rights thus originated as de facto squatters’ claims, which government subsequently partially accommodated as de jure property rights. Paradoxically, in Buenos Aires, where de jure property rights were less secure, original transfers of public lands were nonetheless specified de jure by government. The paper develops a model that explains these differences as a consequence of violence and the relative cost of enforcement of government claims to public land.

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  • Alan Dye & Sumner La Croix, 2013. "The Political Economy of Land Privatization in Argentina and Australia, 1810-1850: A Puzzle," Working Papers 201311, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hai:wpaper:201311

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alston, Lee J. & Libecap, Gary D. & Mueller, Bernardo, 1999. "A model of rural conflict: violence and land reform policy in Brazil," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(02), pages 135-160, May.
    2. Alston, Lee J. & Harris, Edwyna & Mueller, Bernardo, 2012. "The Development of Property Rights on Frontiers: Endowments, Norms, and Politics," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 72(03), pages 741-770, September.
    3. Umbeck, John, 1981. "Might Makes Rights: A Theory of the Formation and Initial Distribution of Property Rights," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 19(1), pages 38-59, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Faguet, Jean-Paul & Sanches, Fábio & Villaveces, Marta-Juanita, 2016. "The paradox of land reform, inequality and local development in Colombia," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 67193, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. Dongwoo Yoo & Edwyna Harris, 2016. "Conditions of Successful Land Reform: A Study of Micronesia," Australian Economic History Review, Economic History Society of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 56(3), pages 292-316, November.

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