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Historical Property Rights, Sociality, and the Emergence of Impersonal Exchange in Long-distance Trade

Erik Kimbrough, Vernon Smith and Bart Wilson ()

No 1003, Working Papers from George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science

Abstract: This laboratory experiment explores the extent to which impersonal exchange emerges from personal exchange with opportunities for long-distance trade. We design a three-commodity production and exchange economy in which agents in three geographically separated villages must develop multilateral exchange networks to import a third good only available abroad. For treatments, we induce two distinct institutional histories to investigate how past experience with property rights affects the evolution of specialization and exchange. We find that a history of un-enforced property rights hinders our subjects¡¯ ability to develop the requisite personal social arrangements necessary to support specialization and effectively exploit impersonal long-distance trade.

Keywords: personal exchange; impersonal exchange; long-distance trade; experimental economics (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C92 D23 D51 F10 N70 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-exp and nep-hpe
Date: 2006-10, Revised 2006-10
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Journal Article: Historical Property Rights, Sociality, and the Emergence of Impersonal Exchange in Long-Distance Trade (2008) Downloads
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