Married Women's Property Laws and Female Commercial Activity: Evidence from United States Patent Records, 1790–1895

  title={Married Women's Property Laws and Female Commercial Activity: Evidence from United States Patent Records, 1790–1895},
  author={B. Zorina Khan},
  journal={The Journal of Economic History},
  pages={356 - 388}
  • B. Khan
  • Published 1 June 1996
  • Economics, Law, History
  • The Journal of Economic History
Nineteenth-century laws granted wives previously withheld rights to their own property and earnings as well as liability for debts and contracts. I use 4,198 women's patents to assess whether these laws encouraged greater female commercial activity. Patentees were motivated by potential profits and were responsive to market incentives. Women's patenting jumped significantly in states with legal reforms and was lowest in states without such laws. Much of the subsequent increase occurred in… 

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