Bull is Half the Herd: Property Rights and Enclosures in England, 1750-1850

Jun 2002 | 046

Authors: Elaine Tan


This paper proposes that one function of the open fields was to reduce the transaction costs of cow-keeping by lowering commoners costs of bulling. At enclosure, cow-keeping fell among small owners who, unlike large farmers, had difficulty obtaining bulling services and were not substantial enough to own both the bull and the cow; they were therefore worse off with enclosures. The minimum acreage required to restore cow keepers to their pre-enclosure economic position indicates that even commoners who were given some land at settlement lost out with the change in property rights.


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