IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Rethinking Property Rights, Relations, and Wealth Inequality in the Age of Non-Fungible Tokens


  • Umut Yertum

    (Kirklareli University, Economics and Faculty of Administrative Sciences, Labor Economics and Department of Industrial Relations, Kirklareli, Turkiye)


Blockchain technology and the possibility of its impacts entered the world with the printing of the first Bitcoin block in 2009. Although overshadowed by Bitcoin due to its popularity, blockchain has a potential far beyond Bitcoin. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are defined as unique digital assets built on blockchains and constitute one of the most important parts of this potential due to its technological infrastructure. This study aims to compare the reasons for the creation and usage areas of important NFTs that have been actively implemented within the framework of traditional property relations. The information and data in this study were prepared using the literature review method and were obtained through projects’ websites and blockchain browsers. The fact that the blockchain infrastructure does not allow things such as copying or modifying NFTs eliminates the need for a third intermediary or approval mechanism in property relations. This results in thousands of dollars-worth of art, games, physical products, and partnerships paving the way for NFTs to be bought and sold without the need for a third-party approval mechanism such as a notaries or Ted Registry Offices. These NFTs are even traded in decentralized secondary markets like OpenSea and have reached a sales volume of over $20 billion. However, 85% of NFT trades are found to have bene made by thetop 10% wallets. The fact that the vast majority of valuable NFTs are concentrated in a small group reinforces the phenomenon of wealth inequality in blockchain.

Suggested Citation

  • Umut Yertum, 2023. "Rethinking Property Rights, Relations, and Wealth Inequality in the Age of Non-Fungible Tokens," Istanbul Journal of Economics-Istanbul Iktisat Dergisi, Istanbul University, Faculty of Economics, vol. 73(73-1), pages 555-585, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:ist:journl:v:73:y:2023:i:1:p:555-585
    DOI: 10.26650/ISTJECON2022-1252403

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. John F. Henry, 1999. "John Locke, Property Rights, and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Issues, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(3), pages 609-624, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Karel Zeman, 2018. "Analýza teorie vlastnických práv [Theory of Ownership Rights Analysis]," Politická ekonomie, Prague University of Economics and Business, vol. 2018(1), pages 99-115.
    2. Marco Faillo & Matteo Rizzolli & Stephan Tontrup, 2016. "Thou shalt not steal (from hard-working people)An experiment on respect for property claims," Econometica Working Papers wp58, Econometica.
    3. José M. Menudo, 2017. "Turgot, Smith and Steuart on Stadial Histories," Working Papers 17.14, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Department of Economics.
    4. Faillo, Marco & Rizzolli, Matteo & Tontrup, Stephan, 2019. "Thou shalt not steal: Taking aversion with legal property claims," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 88-101.
    5. Hoon Hong, 2006. "Rethinking the Notion of the Natural in Classical Political Economy," Korean Economic Review, Korean Economic Association, vol. 22, pages 367-408.

    More about this item


    Blockchain; Non-fungible tokens; Property rights; Wealth inequality JEL Classification : P14 ; D31 ; P36;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • P14 - Political Economy and Comparative Economic Systems - - Capitalist Economies - - - Property Rights
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • P36 - Political Economy and Comparative Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - Consumer Economics; Health; Education and Training; Welfare, Income, Wealth, and Poverty


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ist:journl:v:73:y:2023:i:1:p:555-585. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Ertugrul YASAR (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.