Gender Discrimination in Property Rights: Six Centuries of Commons Governance in the Alps
The Journal of Economic History, 76(2): 559-594, 2016, DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0022050716000565
Posted: 25 Jun 2016 Last revised: 29 Jun 2016
Date Written: June 1, 2016
Starting from the Medieval period, women in the Italian Alps experienced a progressive erosion in property rights over the commons. We collected documents about the evolution of inheritance regulations on collective land issued by hundreds of villages over a period of six centuries (thirteenth-nineteenth). Based on this original dataset, we provide a long-term perspective of decentralized institutional change in which gender-biased inheritance systems emerged as a defensive measure to preserve the wealth of village insiders. This institutional change also had implications for the population growth, marriage strategies, and the protection from economic shocks.
Keywords: institutional change; land rights; common property.
JEL Classification: J16, N53, Q20
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