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Competition and Commitment: the Supply and Enforcement of Rights to Improve Roads and Rivers in England, 1600-1750


  • Dan Bogart

    () (Department of Economics, University of California-Irvine)


Prominent theories link political changes in seventeenth century England with greater security of property rights and less regulation. This paper informs these theories by studying the supply and enforcement of monopoly rights to improve roads and rivers between 1600 and 1750. The evidence shows that the King, Commons, and Lords all supplied improvement rights before the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Afterwards the Commons gained a monopoly over the initiation of rights and became increasingly effective. Lastly the evidence shows that Parliament and the King voided or diminished improvement rights, but such instances were less frequent and less arbitrary after 1688.

Suggested Citation

  • Dan Bogart, 2008. "Competition and Commitment: the Supply and Enforcement of Rights to Improve Roads and Rivers in England, 1600-1750," Working Papers 070817, University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:irv:wpaper:070817

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Wells, John & Wills, Dougals, 2000. "Revolution, Restoration, and Debt Repudiation: The Jacobite Threat to England's Institutions and Economic Growth," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 60(02), pages 418-441, June.
    2. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James Robinson, 2004. "Institutions as the Fundamental Cause of Long-Run Growth," NBER Working Papers 10481, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    4. Dan Bogart, 2009. "Turnpike trusts and property income: new evidence on the effects of transport improvements and legislation in eighteenth-century England -super-1," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 62(1), pages 128-152, February.
    5. Bogart, Dan, 2005. "Did Turnpike Trusts Increase Transportation Investment in Eighteenth-Century England?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(02), pages 439-468, June.
    6. North, Douglass C. & Weingast, Barry R., 1989. "Constitutions and Commitment: The Evolution of Institutions Governing Public Choice in Seventeenth-Century England," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(04), pages 803-832, December.
    7. Bogart, Dan, 2005. "Turnpike trusts and the transportation revolution in 18th century England," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 479-508, October.
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    10. Stephen L. Parente & Edward C. Prescott, 2002. "Barriers to Riches," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262661306, July.
    11. Patrick O'Brien & Trevor Griffiths & Philip Hunt, 1991. "Political components of the industrial revolution: Parliament and the English cotton textile industry, 1660-1774," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 44(3), pages 395-423, August.
    12. Quinn, Stephen, 2001. "The Glorious Revolution'S Effect On English Private Finance: A Microhistory, 1680 1705," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 61(03), pages 593-615, September.
    13. Acemoglu, Daron & Johnson, Simon & Robinson, James A., 2005. "Institutions as a Fundamental Cause of Long-Run Growth," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 6, pages 385-472 Elsevier.
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    More about this item


    Property rights; Commitment; Competition; Infrastructure Investment; Pre-Industrial England;

    JEL classification:

    • K23 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Regulated Industries and Administrative Law
    • N43 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth

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