Economics without history: objections to the rights hypothesis Academic Article uri icon


  • ABSTRACTReasons are given for doubting the currently fashionable thesis that economic growth and industrialisation in the case of England derived from establishing secure property rights after 1688. Customary and public rights remained at risk. Ancient arrangements often persisted far into Victorian times. Detailed evidence is presented of survivals and of illiquid features in the land market. Evidence is also given of endemic disputes over enclosure and tithes. Unlike some European countries, England failed to establish a land registry. Limited transactions probably reflected unwillingness to risk litigation. That unsatisfactory property rights did not, however, stifle growth is tribute to the underlying power of the market.

publication date

  • December 2013

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