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A Theory of Inalienable Property Rights

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  • David Andolfatto

Abstract

Why do democratic societies often impose legal restrictions that render various assets or entitlements inalienable to the individual? The explanation proposed here is that these constraints arise as an institutional response against financial markets that, in a sense, work "too well." That is, I demonstrate how a well-functioning financial market can potentially work against a social policy designed to ensure a basic minimum standard of living for all types of individuals. Inalienable property rights and debt constraints emerge as a natural institutional response to the improvident tendencies of some members of society when a majority of individuals share a common distaste for neighborhood squalor.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 110 (2002)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 382-393

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:110:y:2002:i:2:p:382-393

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  1. Hart, O. & Moore, J., 1991. "A Theory of Debt Based on the Inalienability of Human Capital," Working papers 592, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1981. "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 393-410, June.
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  4. Kehoe, Timothy J & Levine, David K, 1993. "Debt-Constrained Asset Markets," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(4), pages 865-88, October.
  5. Bergstrom, Theodore C, 1999. " Systems of Benevolent Utility Functions," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 1(1), pages 71-100.
  6. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David, 1988. "Cash versus Kind, Self-selection, and Efficient Transfers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 691-700, September.
  7. Fay, S. & Hurst, E. & White, M.J., 1998. "The Bankruptcy Decision: Does Stigma Matter?," Papers 98-01, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
  8. Jaffee, Dwight M & Russell, Thomas, 1976. "Imperfect Information, Uncertainty, and Credit Rationing," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 90(4), pages 651-66, November.
  9. L. Wade, 1988. "Review," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 58(1), pages 99-100, July.
  10. George J. Stigler, 1967. "Imperfections in the Capital Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 287.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Stark, Oded, 2006. "Inequality and migration: A behavioral link," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 91(1), pages 146-152, April.
  2. J. Amegashie & Bazoumana Ouattara & Eric Strobl, 2013. "Moral hazard and the composition of transfers: theory and evidence from cross-border transfers," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 279-301, August.
  3. Dilip Mookherjee, 2005. "Decentralization, Hierarchies and Incentives: A Mechanism Design Perspective," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2005-034, Boston University - Department of Economics, revised Sep 2005.
  4. Sorger, Gerhard & Stark, Oded, 2012. "Income redistribution going awry: The reversal power of the concern for relative deprivation," Discussion Papers 142407, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).
  5. Stark, Oded, 2013. "Stressful integration," University of Tuebingen Working Papers in Economics and Finance 56, University of Tuebingen, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences.
  6. World Bank, 2007. "India - Land Policies for Growth and Poverty Reduction," World Bank Other Operational Studies 7818, The World Bank.
  7. Jeremy Lise, 2006. "On-the-Job Search and Precautionary Savings: Theory and Empirics of Earnings and Wealth Inequality," 2006 Meeting Papers 137, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  8. Kartik B. Athreya & Xuan S. Tam & Eric R. Young, 2011. "Loan guarantees for consumer credit markets," Working Paper 11-06, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  9. Dilip Mookherjee & Ulf von Lilienfeld-Toal, 2005. "Bankruptcy Law, Bonded Labor and Inequality," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series DP-155, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  10. Kartik B. Athreya & Xuan S. Tam & Eric R. Young, 2009. "Are harsh penalties for default really better?," Working Paper 09-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  11. World Bank, 2007. "India : Land Policies for Growth and Poverty Reduction," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15791, October.
  12. Deininger, Klaus, 2010. "Towards sustainable systems of land administration: Recent evidence and challenges for Africa," African Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, African Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 5(1), September.
  13. J. Atsu Amegashie, 2009. "Third-Party Intervention in Conflicts and the Indirect Samaritan's Dilemma," CESifo Working Paper Series 2695, CESifo Group Munich.

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