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The Origins and Dynamics of Agricultural Inheritance Traditions

Thilo Rene Huning and Fabian Wahl ()

Discussion Papers from Department of Economics, University of York

Abstract: In this paper, we analyze the origins of agricultural inheritance traditions. Our case study is the German state of Baden-Württemberg, for which we have data on 3,382 municipalities. It is the first to test systematically a wide array of prevalent hypotheses about the Roman, medieval, and early modern roots of inheritance traditions and their change during the industrialization period and the early 20th century. We also analyze data on village desertion, parts of which we can attribute to the lack of flexible adaption. We find that rural inheritance traditions are primarily determined by geographic factors, especially soil quality, but also Germanic traditions, pre-historical land-abundance, Roman activity and the rise of feudalism during the middle ages. The politics of particular states like Imperial cities or the Duchy of Württemberg also mattered. Change in inheritance practices occurring primarily after industrialization took-off was mainly driven by access to railways, increasing population concentration and imitation and social interactions with people from areas with other traditions.

Keywords: Inheritance rules; Informal institutions; Property Rights; Baden-Württemberg (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D02 D82 H11 H21 N93 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019-08
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-agr and nep-his
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