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Land Inheritance Rules: Theory and Cross-Cultural Analysis

  • Matthew Baker

    (United States Naval Academy)

  • Thomas J. Miceli

    (University of Connecticut)

This paper develops a general theory of land inheritance rules. We distinguish between two classes of rules: those that allow a testator discretion in disposing of his land (like a best-qualified rule), and those that constrain his choice (like primogeniture). The primary benefit of the latter is to prevent rent seeking by heirs, but the cost is that testators cannot make use of information about the relative abilities of his heirs to manage the land. We also account for the impact of scale economies in land use. We conclude by offering some empirical tests of the model using a cross-cultural sample of societies.

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Paper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 2002-43.

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Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2000
Date of revision: May 2002
Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2002-43
Contact details of provider: Postal: University of Connecticut 365 Fairfield Way, Unit 1063 Storrs, CT 06269-1063
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  1. Colwell, Peter F & Munneke, Henry J, 1999. "Land Prices and Land Assembly in the CBD," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 18(2), pages 163-80, March.
  2. Besley, Timothy, 1995. "Property Rights and Investment Incentives: Theory and Evidence from Ghana," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(5), pages 903-37, October.
  3. Anderson, C. Leigh & Swimmer, Eugene, 1997. "Some empirical evidence on property rights of first peoples," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 1-22, May.
  4. Lee J. Alston & Gary D. Libecap & Robert Schneider, 1996. "The Determinants and Impact of Property Rights: Land Titles on the Brazilian Frontier," NBER Working Papers 5405, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Menchik, Paul L, 1980. "Primogeniture, Equal Sharing, and the U. S. Distribution of Wealth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 94(2), pages 299-316, March.
  6. William L. Miller, 1980. "Primogeniture, Entails, and Endowments in English Classical Economics," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 12(4), pages 558-581, Winter.
  7. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1969. "Distribution of Income and Wealth among Individuals," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 37(3), pages 382-97, July.
  8. Bernheim, B Douglas & Shleifer, Andrei & Summers, Lawrence H, 1985. "The Strategic Bequest Motive," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(6), pages 1045-76, December.
  9. Stodder James, 1995. "The Evolution of Complexity in Primitive Exchange: Empirical Tests," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 190-210, April.
  10. Mortensen, Dale T, 1982. "Property Rights and Efficiency in Mating, Racing, and Related Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 968-79, December.
  11. Pryor, Frederic L, 1973. "Simulation of the Impact of Social and Economic Institutions on the Size Distribution of Income and Wealth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(1), pages 50-72, March.
  12. Liam Kennedy, 1991. "Farm succession in modern Ireland: elements of a theory of inheritance," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 44(3), pages 477-499, 08.
  13. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1, July.
  14. Smetters, Kent, 1999. "Ricardian equivalence: long-run Leviathan," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(3), pages 395-421, September.
  15. Buchanan, James M, 1983. "Rent Seeking, Noncompensated Transfers, and Laws of Succession," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(1), pages 71-85, April.
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