The efficiency and distributional consequences of eighteenth century enclosures ( Britain).

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Examines the efficiency and distributional consequences of 18th century enclosure using data collected by Arthur Young in 1768-70. Only half of the surplus generated by open field farms accrued to the landlord as rent, hence introducing free competition into the farm lease market would approximately double rents and lower farmers' incomes. Enclosure did not raise efficiency: when differences in the characteristics (including common rights) of the land were incorporated it was possible to accept the statistical hypothesis that open and enclosed farms were equally efficient. The overall conclusion is that the major economic consequence of the enclosure of open field arable land in the 18th century was to redistribute the existing agricultural income, not to create additional income by increasing efficiency. This conclusion contradicts the conventional wisdom but is backed up by recent agricultural historians.-V.S.Mead

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)937-953
Number of pages17
JournalEconomic Journal
Issue number368
StatePublished - 1982

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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