Extending the Marriage Franchise
I am a big fan of Douglas Allen's work. Allen's The Institutional Revolution is a major contribution to economic history and the role of institutions in economic development, and his paper in Explorations in Economic History on the evolution of the British aristocracy is really illuminating.
Allen also works on social institutions such as marriage and the family. I have just come across a really insightful paper of his on the law and economics of marriage, which asks whether the marriage franchise should be extended to same-sex couples. As this issue has generated a lot of heat recently without providing much insight, Allen's paper is most welcome. It is also welcome given that the British government's consultation into same-sex marriage has just closed - click here for the details. The Cameron government intends to legalise same-sex marriage - it would do well to read Allen's paper before making such a radical and historic institutional change.