Property Rights and Economic Growth: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

56 Pages Posted: 8 Dec 2011

See all articles by Liam Brunt

Liam Brunt

NHH - Norwegian School of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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Date Written: November 8, 2011


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 Classification: N47, O43

Suggested Citation

Brunt, Liam, Property Rights and Economic Growth: Evidence from a Natural Experiment (November 8, 2011). NHH Dept. of Economics Discussion Paper No. 20/2011, Available at SSRN: or

Liam Brunt (Contact Author)

NHH - Norwegian School of Economics ( email )

Department of Economics
Helleveien 30
N-5035 Bergen, Hordaland

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

United Kingdom

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