Large Scale Institutional Changes: Land Demarcation Within the British Empire
This paper examines the economics of large scale institutional change by studying the adoption of the land demarcation practices within the British Empire during the 17th through 19th Centuries. The advantages of systematic, coordinated demarcation, such as with the rectangular survey, relative to individualized, haphazard demarcation, such as with metes and bounds, for reducing transaction costs were understood by this time and incorporated into British colonial policy. Still, there was considerable variation in the institutions adopted even though that the regions had similar legal structures and immigrant populations. We study the determinants of institutional change by developing an analytical framework, deriving testable implications, and then analyzing a data set that includes U.S., Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand temperate colonies using GIS data. We find that a simple framework that outlines the costs and benefits of implementing the demarcation systems can explain the different institutions that are observed. Once in place, these institutions persist, indicating a strong institutional path dependence that can influence transaction costs, the extent of land markets, and the nature of resource use. The agricultural land institutions that we examine remain in force today, in some cases over 300 years later. In this regard, institutions of land are durable, much as are other institutions, such as language and law.
|Date of creation:||Mar 2010|
|Publication status:||published as "Large Scale Institutional Changes: Land Demarcation within the British Empire" with Dean Lueck and Trevor O’Grady, Journal of Law and Economics 2011|
|Note:||DAE EEE LE|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2002.
"Reversal of Fortune: Geography and Institutions in the Making of the Modern World Income Distribution,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1231-1294.
- Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "Reversal of Fortune: Geography and Institutions in the Making of the Modern World Income Distribution," NBER Working Papers 8460, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Avinash Dixit, 2003. "Trade Expansion and Contract Enforcement," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(6), pages 1293-1317, December.
- Demsetz, Harold, 1997. "The Firm in Economic Theory: A Quiet Revolution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 426-429, May.
- Demsetz, Harold, 1988. "The Theory of the Firm Revisited," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(1), pages 141-161, Spring.
- Gary Richardson & Dan Bogart, 2008. "Institutional Adaptability and Economic Development: The Property Rights Revolution in Britain, 1700 to 1830," NBER Working Papers 13757, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Bogart, Dan & Richardson, Gary, 2009. "Making property productive: reorganizing rights to real and equitable estates in Britain, 1660–1830," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(01), pages 3-30, April.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15820. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.