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http://ssrn.com/abstract=1401787
 
 

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The Demarcation of Land and the Role of Coordinating Institutions


Gary D. Libecap


University of California, Santa Barbara - Donald Bren School of Environmental Science & Management; University of Arizona - Karl Eller Center; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

Dean Lueck


University of Arizona

May 2009

NBER Working Paper No. w14942

Abstract:     
This paper examines the origins and economic effects of the two dominant land demarcation systems: metes and bounds (MB) and the rectangular system (RS). Under MB property is demarcated by its perimeter as indicated by natural features and human structures and linked to surveys within local political jurisdictions. Under RS land demarcation is governed by a common grid with uniform square shapes, sizes, alignment, and geographically-based addresses. In the U.S. MB largely is used in the original 13 states, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The RS is found elsewhere under the Land Ordinance of 1785 that divided federal lands into square-mile sections. We develop an economic framework for examining land demarcation systems and draw predictions. Our empirical analysis focuses on a 39-county area of Ohio where both MB and RS were used in adjacent areas as a result of exogenous historical factors. The results indicate that topography influences parcel shape and size under a MB system; that parcel shapes are aligned under the RS; and that the RS is associated with higher land values, more roads, more land transactions, and fewer legal disputes than MB, all else equal. The comparative limitations of MB appear to have had negative long-term effects on land values and economic activity in the sample area.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 62

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Date posted: May 12, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Libecap, Gary D. and Lueck, Dean, The Demarcation of Land and the Role of Coordinating Institutions (May 2009). NBER Working Paper No. w14942. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1401787

Contact Information

Gary D. Libecap (Contact Author)
University of California, Santa Barbara - Donald Bren School of Environmental Science & Management ( email )
4670 Physical Sciences North
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-5131
United States
805-893-8611 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://www.esm.ucsb.edu/people/usernew.asp?user=glibecap
University of Arizona - Karl Eller Center ( email )
McClelland Hall
Tucson, AZ 85721-0108
United States
520-621-4821 (Phone)
520-626-5269 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.bpa.arizona.edu/~libecap
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
PERC - Property and Environment Research Center
2048 Analysis Drive
Suite A
Bozeman, MT 59718
United States

Dean Lueck
University of Arizona ( email )
Chavez Building, Room 421
Tucson, AZ 95721-0023
United States
520-621-4371 (Phone)
520-621-6250 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://ag.arizona.edu/AREC/dept/faculty/lueck.html
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References:  66
Citations:  12

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