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The Coase Theorem at Sixty

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  • Steven G. Medema

Abstract

The Coase theorem is one of the most influential and controversial ideas to emerge from post-World War II economics. This article examines the theorem's origins, diffusion, and the wide variety of uses to which it has been put by economists and others over the sixty years since Coase published "The Problem of Social Cost." Along the way, we explore the ambiguity and controversy surrounding the theorem, develop a Coase theorem that is valid as a proposition in economic logic, and probe the implications of all of this for the use of the Coase theorem going forward.

Suggested Citation

  • Steven G. Medema, 2020. "The Coase Theorem at Sixty," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 58(4), pages 1045-1128, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jeclit:v:58:y:2020:i:4:p:1045-1128
    DOI: 10.1257/jel.20191060
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    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights

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