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Unearthing T. Rex: The Law and Economics of Paleontological Finds

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Author Info

  • Paul Hallwood

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Thomas J. Miceli

    (University of Connecticut)

Abstract

This paper assesses the economic characteristics of the balance that federal law aims to achieve between the interests of paleontologists and amateur and commercial collectors of fossils on US federal lands. The objective function is taken to be the maximization of the social value of these resources. Allowing ‘open access’ to amateurs and commercial collectors would maximize search activity. However, as a fossil’s scientific value is not necessarily their priority, they may under-invest in the recovery of such information. We trace how US federal law has tried to strike a balance between search activity and scientific recovery. We also comment favorably on the developing trend of promoting professional (paleontologist)-amateur partnerships in both search and recovery.

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File URL: http://web2.uconn.edu/economics/working/2014-07.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 2014-07.

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Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2014-07

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Postal: University of Connecticut 341 Mansfield Road, Unit 1063 Storrs, CT 06269-1063
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Web page: http://www.econ.uconn.edu/
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Related research

Keywords: Fossils; scientific value; search and recovery; paleontology;

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  1. Paul Hallwood & Thomas J. Miceli, 2004. "Murky Waters: The Law and Economics of Salvaging Historic Shipwrecks," Working papers 2004-40, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  2. Mortensen, Dale T, 1982. "Property Rights and Efficiency in Mating, Racing, and Related Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 968-79, December.
  3. Lueck, Dean, 1995. "The Rule of First Possession and the Design of the Law," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(2), pages 393-436, October.
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