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Go West Young Man: Self-Selection and Endogenous Property Rights

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  • Taylor Jaworski

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Arizona, P.O. Box 210108, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA;)

  • Bart J. Wilson

    ()
    (Economic Science Institute, Chapman University, One University Drive, Orange, CA 92866, USA; corresponding author)

Abstract

If, as Hume argues, property is a self-referring custom of a group of people, then property rights depend on how that group forms and orders itself. In this article we investigate how people construct a convention for property in an experiment in which groups of self-selected individuals can migrate between three geographically separate regions. To test a hypothesis of Demsetz's, we vary across two treatments the external benefits of migrating. We find that self-selection has a powerful effect on establishing conventions of property and begetting increases in wealth through exchange and specialization. We also find support for the Demsetz hypothesis. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.4284/0038-4038-2011.249

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Bibliographic Info

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

Volume (Year): 79 (2013)
Issue (Month): 4 (April)
Pages: 886-904

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Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:79:4:y:2013:p:886-904

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  1. Durham, Yvonne & Hirshleifer, Jack & Smith, Vernon L, 1998. "Do the Rich Get Richer and the Poor Poorer? Experimental Tests of a Model of Power," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(4), pages 970-83, September.
  2. Erik Kimbrough & Vernon Smith & Bart Wilson, 2006. "Historical Property Rights, Sociality, and the Emergence of Impersonal Exchange in Long-distance Trade," Working Papers 1003, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science, revised Oct 2006.
  3. Grossman, Herschel I & Kim, Minseong, 1995. "Swords or Plowshares? A Theory of the Security of Claims to Property," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1275-88, December.
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  7. Sean Crockett & Vernon Smith & Bart Wilson, 2006. "Exchange and Specialization as a Discovery Process," Working Papers 1002, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science, revised May 2006.
  8. Starr, Ross M, 1976. "Decentralized Nonmonetary Trade," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(5), pages 1087-89, September.
  9. Powell, Benjamin & Wilson, Bart J., 2008. "An experimental investigation of Hobbesian jungles," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 66(3-4), pages 669-686, June.
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  12. Rigdon, Mary & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon, 2001. "Sustaining cooperation in trust games," MPRA Paper 2006, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 23 Apr 2006.
  13. Carter, John R. & Anderton, Charles H., 2001. "An experimental test of a predator-prey model of appropriation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 83-97, May.
  14. Jack Hirshleifer, 1991. "The Paradox Of Power," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 3(3), pages 177-200, November.
  15. Daniel Houser & David Reiley & Michael Urbancic, 2004. "Checking Out Temptation: An Natural Experiment with Purchases at the Grocery Register," Working Papers 1001, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science, revised Nov 2008.
  16. Skaperdas, Stergios, 1992. "Cooperation, Conflict, and Power in the Absence of Property Rights," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 720-39, September.
  17. Roberto A. Weber, 2006. "Managing Growth to Achieve Efficient Coordination in Large Groups," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 114-126, March.
  18. Jack Hirshleifer, 1989. "Conflict and rent-seeking success functions: Ratio vs. difference models of relative success," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 63(2), pages 101-112, November.
  19. McCabe, Kevin A. & Rigdon, Mary L. & Smith, Vernon L., 2003. "Positive reciprocity and intentions in trust games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 267-275, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Erik O. Kimbrough & Bart J. Wilson, 2012. "Insiders, outsiders, and the adaptability of informal rules to ecological shocks," Discussion Papers dp12-20, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.
  2. Bart J. Wilson & Taylor Jaworski & Karl Schurter & Andrew Smyth, 2010. "The Ecological and Civil Mainsprings of Property: An Experimental Economic History of Whalers’ Rules of Capture," Working Papers 10-12, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
  3. Joy A. Buchanan & Bart J. Wilson, 2012. "An Experiment on Protecting Intellectual Property," Working Papers 12-09, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.

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