Scholars widely accept that links exist between secure property rights, a prospering economy, and a stable government. But the question of how such rights develop has stirred academic debate for years. Because Russia vaulted from circumstances in which property rights had little meaning to an economy built around them, it offers fertile ground for testing different and often competing theories. No one has done that better—more rigorously, more creatively, and more thoroughly—than Frye has in this book. Using survey data reaching back to 2000, as well as interviews with more than 2,500 businesspeople, he examines whether and to what degree one’s ability to own, hold, and profit from a business depends on the balance of political leverage between owners and state agents; the integrity of institutions such as courts; the impact of social constructs, including reputation; and the strength of social norms, whether generated by ideology, religion, or culture. All these factors matter, but Frye illuminates with great care just when, why, and how they matter, situating his analysis within an extraordinarily broad range of relevant scholarship.
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