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"The Bull is Half the Herd": Property Rights and Enclosures in England, 1750-1850

  • Elaine Tan

    (Nuffield College, Oxford)

This paper proposes that one function of the open fields was to reduce the transaction costs of cow-keeping by lowering commoners’ costs of bulling. At enclosure, cow-keeping fell among small owners who, unlike large farmers, had difficulty obtaining bulling services and were not substantial enough to own both the bull and the cow; they were therefore worse off with enclosures. The minimum acreage required to restore cow keepers to their pre-enclosure economic position indicates that even commoners who were given some land at settlement lost out with the change in property rights.

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File URL: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/materials/papers/2282/46tan.pdf
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Paper provided by Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford in its series Oxford University Economic and Social History Series with number _046.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: 01 Jun 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nuf:esohwp:_046
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.nuff.ox.ac.uk/economics/

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  1. Boaz Moselle, 1995. "Allotments, enclosure, and proletarianization in early nineteenth-century southern England," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 48(3), pages 482-500, 08.
  2. Klein, Benjamin & Crawford, Robert G & Alchian, Armen A, 1978. "Vertical Integration, Appropriable Rents, and the Competitive Contracting Process," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 297-326, October.
  3. Clark, Gregory, 1998. "Commons Sense: Common Property Rights, Efficiency, and Institutional Change," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(01), pages 73-102, March.
  4. Humphries, Jane, 1990. "Enclosures, Common Rights, and Women: The Proletarianization of Families in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 50(01), pages 17-42, March.
  5. Shaw-Taylor, Leigh, 2001. "Parliamentary Enclosure And The Emergence Of An English Agricultural Proletariat," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 61(03), pages 640-662, September.
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