Law / 29.05.2009

By Anjum Altaf Picking up on the speculation about the causes of poverty of Indian Muslims, I did some more reading on the subject. The bottom line is that the variations in the laws of inheritance matter in very interesting ways. Let me outline some of basic contours here and hope we can discuss the details in the comments. Where the principal form of property was land, a law favoring equal division amongst all heirs would lead to fragmented holdings while a law decreeing transfer to one heir only would avoid fragmentation. The same would apply to other immovable property – for example, if there were two heirs to a house with neither having sufficient funds to buy out the other, there would no option but to sell the property and divide the cash. Family wealth would rarely accumulate into corporate wealth with the growth of big business houses. This...