Property Rights and Growth: Lessons from Slavery

Strong enforcement of property rights is good for economic growth, says the conventional wisdom. The link may not be as clear cut, says Suresh Naidu. He and co-investigator Jeremiah Dittmar are digging through court records and newspaper ads on runaway slaves to come up with a measure of property rights enforcement. The hypothesis is that weak enforcement of property rights in people — slavery that is — discouraged investment in slaves and encouraged investment in manufacturing and infrastructure instead. A new angle on the link between property rights and economic growth — this is new economic thinking.

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