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Are property rights enough?

  • Barbara G. Katz
  • Joel Owen

We investigate the claim made by proponents of the big-bang strategy that the establishment of property rights in an economy in transition creates its own demand for the enforcement of laws to protect those rights. Our model contains a government engaging in activities to accomplish objectives that depend on public support for the enforcement of the rule of law and agents who interpret the level of activities of the government as indications of the government's intent to enforce the rule of law. Agents, using the level of government activities as an input to their decisions, choose whether to support the government's objectives. We establish conditions under which the level of activities chosen by the government maximizes its benefits, and simultaneously induces the constituency to support enforcement of the rule of law. These conditions provide a basis for the argument for the implementation of the big-bang policy. When these conditions do not hold, however, we show that the level of activities that maximizes the government's benefits may have only a minor impact on support for the enforcement of the rule of law. Two characteristics play an important role in these conditions: the initial level of crime and the types of activities the government chooses to undertake. We present examples showing that the initial level of crime has the more dramatic effect on subsequent support for the rule of law. Copyright (c) 2009 The Authors. Journal compilation (c) 2009 The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

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Article provided by The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in its journal Economics of Transition.

Volume (Year): 17 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (01)
Pages: 75-96

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Handle: RePEc:bla:etrans:v:17:y:2009:i:1:p:75-96
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