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This paper shows that the Glorious Revolution of 1688 broadened access to Parliament for families needing rights to sell land in so-called estate bills. Bills were on average 14–27 percentage points more likely to be for gentry families and not aristocratic families in legislative sessions after the Revolution compared to sessions before. Regression and archival evidence suggest that parliamentary certainty was primarily responsible for improved access by altering families’ entry calculus and brokers’ recruitment of new business. More broadly, the paper provides insight into the ways in which political institutions affect access to and the provision of property rights.
We examine the development of de jure property rights to land by assessing how accurately governments recorded borders of property. We use surveys of farm parcels from two historical states, the Republic of the Orange Free State (OFS) and the South African Republic (ZAR), which are in modern-day South Africa, and employ a descriptive analysis to infer how accurately maps represent parcels of property. We argue that differences in state administrative capacity explains differences in map accuracy and therefore the provision of de jure property rights to land. We find that maps of farms in the ZAR, which had lower administrative capacity, tend to be less accurate than maps of farms in the OFS. Comparisons with military maps compiled under a different administration provide evidence that the costs incurred from previous administrations can limit future attempts to accurately record property. The analysis shows how state administrative capacity can facilitate (or hinder) the provision of property rights to land.
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