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Vol 21 No 11 Nov/Dec 2016

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Politics and Property Rights

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Shawn Everett KantorAssociate Professor of Economics, Public Administration and Policy, University of Arizona, USA

ISBN13: 9780226423777
ISBN: 0226423778
Published: March 1998
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Format: Paperback
Price: £22.50



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After the American Civil War, agricultural reformers in the South called for an end to unrestricted grazing of livestock on unfenced land. They advocated the stock law, which required livestock owners to fence in their animals, arguing that the existing system (in which farmers built protective fences around crops) was outdated and inhibited economic growth. The reformers steadily won their battles, and by the end of the century the range was on the way to being closed.;In this study Shawn Kantor uses economic analysis to assert that contrary to traditional historical interpretation, this conflict was centered on anticipated benefits from fencing livestock rather than on class, cultural or ideological differences. The text seeks to show that the stock law brought economic benefits; and at the same time analyzes why the law's adoption was hindered in many areas where it would have increased wealth.;Kantor's argument illuminates the dynamics of real-world institutional change, where transactions are often costly and where some inefficient institutions persist while others give way to economic growth.

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