Property rights are one of the most fundamental and highly robust institutions supporting economic performance. However, the channels through which property rights are achieved are not adequately identified. This paper is a first step toward unbundling the black box of property rights into a formal and an informal component. We empirically determine the significance of both informal and formal rules in securing property rights. We find that when both components are included in the analysis, the impact of formal constraints is greatly diminished, while informal constraints are highly significant in explaining the security of property. These results are robust to a variety of model specifications, multiple instrumental variables, and a range of control variables.
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