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

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Author Info

  • Taylor Jaworski

    ()
    (Economics Department,University of Arizona)

  • Bart J. Wilson

    ()
    (Economic Science Institute, Chapman University)

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 paper 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. We find that the absence of property rights clearly decreases wealth in our environment and that interest in establishing property rights is a key determinant of the decision to migrate to a new region. Theft is nearly eliminated among migrants, resulting in strong growth, and non-migrants remain in poverty. Thus, self-selection, through the decision to migrate, to form more cooperative groups is essential for establishing property rights.

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File URL: http://www.chapman.edu/ESI/wp/Jaworski-Wilson_Gowestyoungman.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Chapman University, Economic Science Institute in its series Working Papers with number 09-02.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:chu:wpaper:09-02

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Keywords: experimental economics; property rights; migration and exit;

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References

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  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Avinash Dixit, 2003. "Trade Expansion and Contract Enforcement," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(6), pages 1293-1317, December.
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Citations

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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. Joy Buchanan & Bart Wilson, 2014. "An Experiment on Protecting Intellectual Property," Working Papers 1044, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science.
  3. Bart J. Wilson & Taylor Jaworski & Karl E. Schurter & Andrew Smyth, 2012. "The Ecological and Civil Mainsprings of Property: An Experimental Economic History of Whalers' Rules of Capture," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 28(4), pages 617-656, October.

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