"Was the Glorious Revolution a Constitutional Watershed?" by Gary W. Cox
Douglass North and Barry Weingast's seminal account of the Glorious Revolution argued that specific constitutional reforms enhanced the credibility of the English Crown, leading to much stronger public finances. Critics have argued that the most important reforms occurred incrementally before the Revolution; and that neither interest rates on sovereign debt nor enforcement of property rights improved sharply after the Revolution. In this article, I identify a different set of constitutional reforms, explain why precedents for these reforms did not lessen their revolutionary impact, and show that the evidence, properly evaluated, supports a view of the Revolution as a watershed.
How do property rights evolve when unoccupied areas attract economic use? Who are the first claimants on the frontier and how do they establish their property rights? When do governments provide de jure property rights? We present a conceptual framework that addresses these questions and apply it to the frontiers of Australia, the United States, and Brazil. Our framework stresses the crucial role of politics as frontiers develop by identifying situations where the competition for land by those with de facto rights and those with de jure rights leads to violence or potential conflicts.