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Eminent Domain versus Government Purchase of Land Given Imperfect Information about Owners' Valuations

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  • Steven Shavell

Abstract

Governments employ two basic policies for acquiring land: taking it through the exercise of their power of eminent domain, and purchasing it. The social desirability of these policies is compared in a model in which the government's information about landowners' valuations is imperfect. Under this assumption, the policy of purchase possesses the market test advantage that the government obtains land from an owner only if its offer exceeds the owner's valuation. However, the policy suffers from a drawback when the land that the government needs is owned by many parties. In that case, the government's acquisition will fail if any of the owners refuses to sell. Hence, eminent domain becomes appealing if the number of landowners is large. This conclusion holds regardless of whether the land that the government seeks is a parcel at a fixed location or instead is a contiguous parcel that may be located anywhere in a region. (c) 2010 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

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  • Steven Shavell, 2010. "Eminent Domain versus Government Purchase of Land Given Imperfect Information about Owners' Valuations," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 53(1), pages 1-27, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:v:53:y:2010:i:1:p:1-27
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hermalin, Benjamin E, 1995. "An Economic Analysis of Takings," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(1), pages 64-86, April.
    2. George J. Mailath & Andrew Postlewaite, 1990. "Asymmetric Information Bargaining Problems with Many Agents," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(3), pages 351-367.
    3. Lawrence Blume & Daniel L. Rubinfeld & Perry Shapiro, 1984. "The Taking of Land: When Should Compensation Be Paid?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 99(1), pages 71-92.
    4. Munch, Patricia, 1976. "An Economic Analysis of Eminent Domain," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(3), pages 473-497, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:kap:expeco:v:20:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10683-016-9486-z is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:eee:jhouse:v:39:y:2018:i:c:p:25-32 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Isaac, R. Mark & Kitchens, Carl & Portillo, Javier E., 2016. "Can buyer “mobility” reduce aggregation failures in land-assembly?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 16-30.
    4. repec:eee:juecon:v:105:y:2018:i:c:p:176-185 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Hans-Bernd Schäfer & Ram Singh, 2017. "Takings of Land by Self-interested Governments Economic Analysis of Eminent Domain," Working papers 281, Centre for Development Economics, Delhi School of Economics.
    6. Abel M. Winn & Matthew W. McCarter, 2016. "Who’s Holding Out? An Experimental Study of the Benefits and Burdens of Eminent Domain," Working Papers 0154mkt, College of Business, University of Texas at San Antonio.
    7. Carl Kitchens, 2014. "The use of eminent domain in land assembly: The case of the Tennessee Valley Authority," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 160(3), pages 455-466, September.
    8. Kitchens, Carl & Roomets, Alex, 2015. "Dealing with eminent domain," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 22-31.

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