Winners and Losers from Enclosure: Evidence from Danish Land Inequality 1682-1895

37 Pages Posted: 8 May 2020

See all articles by Nina Boberg-Fazlic

Nina Boberg-Fazlic

University of Southern Denmark

Markus Lampe

Vienna University of Economics and Business

Pablo Martinelli Lasheras

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Paul Richard Sharp

University of Southern Denmark - Department of Business and Economics

Date Written: April 2020

Abstract

There is a vast literature on the effects of land inequality and agrarian reforms, but little on the origins of this inequality. We exploit a new and unique parish-level database of land inequality in Denmark, from 1682 to 1895, during which period there was comprehensive land reform and enclosure. We demonstrate that inequality increased after land reform in areas with more productive land, measured using contemporary tax assessments. We instrument for land quality using glacial and postglacial sediment soil types. We propose a mechanism whereby agrarian reforms allowed areas with better soil quality to realize greater productivity gains. Malthusian mechanisms and internal migration then led to greater population increases in more fertile areas, leading to a larger share of smallholders and landless laborers. We present evidence for this mechanism in part from population density revealed by censuses. After the reforms, the geographical pattern of inequality remained strikingly constant, although population and inequality continued to grow throughout the nineteenth century.

Keywords: Denmark, enclosures, Land Inequality

JEL Classification: N53, O13, Q15

Suggested Citation

Boberg-Fazlic, Nina and Lampe, Markus and Martinelli Lasheras, Pablo and Sharp, Paul Richard, Winners and Losers from Enclosure: Evidence from Danish Land Inequality 1682-1895 (April 2020). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP14616, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3594246

Nina Boberg-Fazlic (Contact Author)

University of Southern Denmark ( email )

Campusvej 55
DK-5230 Odense, 5000
Denmark

Markus Lampe

Vienna University of Economics and Business ( email )

Welthandelsplatz 1
Vienna, Wien 1020
Austria

Pablo Martinelli Lasheras

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Paul Richard Sharp

University of Southern Denmark - Department of Business and Economics ( email )

DK-5230 Odense
Denmark

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