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An Essay on Human Rights and the Market for Social Contracts


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  • Andrew M. Francis

    (Department of Economics, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322-2240, USA)

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    In this article, I discuss an economic theory of human rights. Interpreting the social contract as a market good, a vector of rights that cannot be unbundled, I construct a competitive model in which citizens demand and states supply social contracts. An international market for social contracts matches citizens with states and determines the optimal social contracts. Human rights are the set of rights common to all equilibrium social contracts under perfectly competitive conditions. I explain that in reality, states may renege on their promises to citizens and may interfere with the market for social contracts. Thus, I argue for limits on state sovereignty and suggest that the international authority enforce social contracts and enhance the efficiency of the market for social contracts.

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    Article provided by Southern Economic Association in its journal Southern Economic Journal.

    Volume (Year): 77 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 1 (July)
    Pages: 181-188

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    Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:77:1:y:2010:p:181-188

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