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SUMMARY

Institutions, and more specifically private property rights, have come to be seen as a major determinant of long-run economic development. We evaluate the case for property rights as an explanatory factor of the Industrial Revolution and derive some lessons for the analysis of developing countries today. We pay particular attention to the role of property rights in the accumulation of physical capital and the production of new ideas. The evidence that we review from the economic history literature does not support the institutional thesis.