Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Discussion Paper Series in Economics,
Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics

No 20/2011: Property rights and economic growth: evidence from a natural experiment

Liam Brunt ()
Additional contact information
Liam Brunt: Dept. of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration, Postal: NHH , Department of Economics, Helleveien 30, N-5045 Bergen, Norway

Abstract: In 1795 the British took control of the Cape colony (South Africa) from the Dutch; and in 1843 they exogenously changed the legal basis of landholding, giving more secure property rights to landholders. Since endowments and other factors were held constant, these changes offer clean tests of the effects on economic growth of colonial identity and secure property rights. The effects of both changes were immediate, positive and large. Other legal and institutional changes, such as the move to a common law system in 1827, had no such effects on economic growth.

Keywords: Economic growth; legal origins; property rights

JEL-codes: N47; O43

48 pages, December 8, 2011

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