Department of Economic History

Lund University School of Economics and Management

EKHT33 Advanced Topic: Good Government – Legal institutions, property rights and development

Graduate level, 7.5 hp (ECTS)

Most scholars would agree that ‘good government’ is a prerequisite for economic development: societies that do not manage to protect property rights will not be able to achieve an efficient allocation of production factors. They will also not be able to attract foreign investors. Which property rights systems are beneficial to growth, how they emerged, and they can be introduced in developing societies, are key issues in economic history.

The course discusses the development of the concept of property in the long run, as well as the history of property rights systems, and their implications for development. It also asks how such a long-run approach can help us understand how to manage and improve property rights systems in today’s societies. The course introduces the New Institutional Economics approach to economic development, and will pay attention to various legal underpinnings of property, including contract law and public registration of titles to property, as well as rule of law and conflict mediation institutions, and government’s role in property rights enforcement, to get an impression of what makes for a beneficial property rights system.

Adjusting property rights systems can be difficult because of the vested interests of property owners. Attention will therefore also go to the question of how past societies managed to make changes to their property rights systems, under which circumstances they managed to succeed, and how this impacted upon development.