Saturday, May 21, 2022

Article: Of Families and Inheritance: Law and Development in Pre-Industrial England

Peter Grajzl and Peter Murrell recently published an Article entitled, Of Families and Inheritance: Law and Development in Pre-Industrial England, 2021. Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

We examine how pre-industrial English caselaw development on land, inheritance, and families affected, and was affected by, economic and demographic outcomes. Our yearly measures of caselaw development are derived from existing topic-model estimates that reflect a comprehensive corpus of reports on pre-1765 court cases. We estimate a structural VAR model using these caselaw time-series in combination with measures of real per-capita income and vital rates. Pre-industrial caselaw development profoundly shaped economic development. Strikingly, the areas of caselaw that stimulated real-income growth are on families and inheritance, not land. Caselaw on families and inheritance was especially important as a driver of real income and birth rates after 1710. Caselaw developments were spurred primarily by changes in real income, not by changes in vital rates. Incorporation of endogenous caselaw development leaves intact the findings of the existing literature that examines pre-industrial economic-demographic interactions. However, our findings do imply that any Malthusian trap that was present in pre-industrial England was made less severe as a result of developments in caselaw on families and inheritance.

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