The Effects of Land Redistribution: Evidence from the French Revolution

53 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2020

See all articles by Theresa Finley

Theresa Finley

Susquehanna University

Raphael Franck

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Economics

Noel Johnson

George Mason University

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 2020

Abstract

This study exploits the confiscation and auctioning off of Church property that occurred during the French Revolution to assess the role played by transaction costs in delaying the reallocation of property rights in the aftermath of fundamental institutional reform. French districts with a greater proportion of land redistributed during the Revolution experienced higher levels of agricultural productivity in 1841 and 1852 as well as more investment in irrigation and more efficient land use. We trace these increases in productivity to an increase in land inequality associated with the Revolutionary auction process. We also show how the benefits associated with the head-start given to districts with more Church land initially, and thus greater land redistribution by auction during the Revolution, dissipated over the course of the nineteenth century as other districts gradually overcame the transaction costs associated with reallocating the property rights associated with the feudal system.

Keywords: Coase theorem, French Revolution, institutions, Property rights

JEL Classification: D47, N53, O43, P14

Suggested Citation

Finley, Theresa and Franck, Raphael and Johnson, Noel, The Effects of Land Redistribution: Evidence from the French Revolution (March 2020). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP14522, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3560330

Theresa Finley (Contact Author)

Susquehanna University ( email )

514 University Ave
Selinsgrove, PA 17870-1164

HOME PAGE: http://https://theresafinley.com/

Raphael Franck

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Economics ( email )

Mount Scopus
Jerusalem, 91905
Israel

Noel Johnson

George Mason University

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