August 2023

IZA DP No. 16394: The Causal Effects of Enclosures on Production and Productivity

Volha Lazuka, Tommy Bengtsson, Patrick Svensson

Enclosures enforced private property rights at the onset of industrialization, yet numerous estimations of the enclosures' effects on production and productivity rely on non- experimental designs. We estimate the causal effects of enclosure reforms applying state- of-the-art difference-in-differences and event-study methods to a large panel of farms observed between 1781 and 1865 in Sweden. Our results demonstrate that enclosures led to a 3.4 percent annual growth in land productivity in the first decade and overall production increase reached 82 percent after 30 years. Such results are much larger than previous estimates, suggesting that land enclosures were a prerequisite for modern economic growth.