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The origins of agricultural inheritance traditions

Thilo Rene Huning and Fabian Wahl

Journal of Comparative Economics, 2021, vol. 49, issue 3, 660-674

Abstract: We investigate the origins of agricultural inheritance traditions, equal partition and primogeniture. Our case study is the German state of Baden-Württemberg. Our empirical findings suggest that rural inheritance traditions were primarily determined by geography. First, fertile soils allowed splitting of the land among siblings for longer and with fewer conflicts, and hence we find more equal partition in areas with higher soil quality, especially at elevation levels conducive to intensive agriculture. Second, geography determined the settlement pattern. Areas that were settled before the Middle Ages, when land was abundant and free, are more likely to apply equal partition today. In areas that were largely uninhabited until the Middle Ages, primogeniture is the norm. We argue that these areas were deforested with the obligation of primogeniture, imposed by feudal lords.

Keywords: Inheritance practices; Geography; Informal institutions; Baden-Württemberg (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: N93 N94 Q15 R10 Z10 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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Citations: View citations in EconPapers (5)

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DOI: 10.1016/j.jce.2021.01.004

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jcecon:v:49:y:2021:i:3:p:660-674