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Yale Law School

Comparative and Foreign Law

Comparative Law; Law and Economics; Legal History; Property-Personal and Real

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Full-Text Articles in Legal History

Property Rights In Land, Agricultural Capitalism, And The Relative Decline Of Pre-Industrial China, Taisu Zhang Feb 2011

Property Rights In Land, Agricultural Capitalism, And The Relative Decline Of Pre-Industrial China, Taisu Zhang

Student Scholarship Papers

Scholars have long debated how legal institutions influenced the economic development of societies and civilizations. This Article sheds new light on this debate by reexamining, from a legal perspective, a crucial segment of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century economic divergence between England and China: By 1700, English agriculture had become predominantly capitalist, reliant on “managerial” farms worked chiefly by hired labor. On the other hand, Chinese agriculture counterproductively remained household-based throughout the Qing and Republican eras.

The explanation for this key agricultural divergence, which created multiple advantages for English proto-industry, lies in differences between Chinese and English property rights regimes ...