The appeal of common property ideas may be traced in large measure to the fact that they seem to embody widely held values of equality. On the other hand, empirical examination of common property institutions reveals that they can coexist with significant inequality. In this paper, the relationship between common property and equality is examined. It is argued that the role of common property can only be understood in the context of the associated private property institutions. Common property in agriculture is interpreted as part of a system based on small-scale peasant proprietorship of arable land. Common property institutions provide a method of capturing scale economies and thereby increasing the efficiency of small-scale peasant proprietorship in competition with large scale production based on wage labor. Common Property, Equality and Development 1
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