Indentured Migration in America's Great Basin : An Observation in Strategic Behavior in Cooperative Exchanges
Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics
The Perpetual Emigrating Fund was a 19th century form of indentured migration that assisted European immigrants to American's Great Basin. Immigrants signed future contracts against their Great Basin labor to repay migration loans. The fund encountered high monitoring costs to enforce contracts in rural areas. In the absence of a strong legal system, the fund developed a series of enforcement mechanisms that relied on social norms and morays. Hence the Perpetual Emigrating Fund demonstrates the success and failures of an institution that attempted to remain solvent with imperfect contracts and enforcement mechanisms. The words of the contract that the immigrants were required to sign is included in this article.