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The Meaning of Property Rights: Law versus Economics?

Author

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  • Daniel H. Cole
  • Peter Z. Grossman

Abstract

Property rights are fundamental to economic analysis. There is, however, no consensus in the economic literature about what property rights are. Economists define them variously and inconsistently, sometimes in ways that deviate from the conventional understandings of legal scholars and judges. This article explores ways in which definitions of property rights in the economic literature diverge from conventional legal understandings, and how those divergences can create interdisciplinary confusion and bias economic analyses. Indeed, some economists’ idiosyncratic definitions of property rights, if used to guide policy, could lead to suboptimal economic outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel H. Cole & Peter Z. Grossman, 2002. "The Meaning of Property Rights: Law versus Economics?," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 78(3), pages 317-330.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:landec:v:78:y:2002:i:3:p:317-330
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard H, 1990. "Experimental Tests of the Endowment Effect and the Coase Theorem," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1325-1348, December.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Grouiez, Pascal, 2013. "Understanding the puzzling resilience of the land share ownership in Russia: the input of Ostrom’s approach," Revue de la Régulation - Capitalisme, institutions, pouvoirs, Association Recherche et Régulation, vol. 14.
    2. Andrea Asoni, 2008. "Protection Of Property Rights And Growth As Political Equilibria," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 22(5), pages 953-987, December.
    3. Korenok, Oleg & Millner, Edward & Razzolini, Laura, 2017. "Feelings of ownership in dictator games," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 145-151.
    4. Howells, John, 2005. "Are Patents used to Suppress Useful Technology?," Working Papers 2005-10, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Management.
    5. Mehrdad Vahabi, 2016. "A positive theory of the predatory state," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 168(3), pages 153-175, September.
    6. repec:zbw:iamost:85 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Pietri, Antoine, 2015. "« Propriété » ou « possession » : une question de sémantique…ou de paradigme ?
      [“Property” or “possession”: just a matter of semantics…or paradigm?]
      ," MPRA Paper 67096, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Krutilla Kerry & Alexeev Alexander, 2012. "The Normative Implications of Political Decision-Making for Benefit-Cost Analysis," Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis, De Gruyter, vol. 3(2), pages 1-36, May.
    9. Calbay, Arman, 2006. "Property Rights and Theory of Value," MPRA Paper 25827, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 31 Jul 2009.
    10. Gerber, Jean-David & Knoepfel, Peter & Nahrath, Stéphane & Varone, Frédéric, 2009. "Institutional Resource Regimes: Towards sustainability through the combination of property-rights theory and policy analysis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(3), pages 798-809, January.
    11. Wim van de Griendt, 2004. "A law & economics approach to the study of integrated management regimes of estuaries," Law and Economics 0408002, EconWPA.
    12. Dang, Thi Kim Phung & Turnhout, Esther & Arts, Bas, 2012. "Changing forestry discourses in Vietnam in the past 20years," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 31-41.
    13. A. Nicita & M. Rizzolli & H. Smith, 2012. "Exploring Coase’s world: an introduction," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 59(2), pages 111-120, July.
    14. Valentino Cattelan, 2013. "Introduction. Babel, Islamic finance and Europe: preliminary notes on property rights pluralism," Chapters,in: Islamic Finance in Europe, chapter 1, pages 1-12 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    15. Shi, Tian, 2006. "Simplifying complexity: Rationalising water entitlements in the Southern Connected River Murray System, Australia," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 86(3), pages 229-239, December.
    16. Kim, Annette M., 2007. "North versus South: The Impact of Social Norms in the Market Pricing of Private Property Rights in Vietnam," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 35(12), pages 2079-2095, December.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K11 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Property Law
    • Q15 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Land Ownership and Tenure; Land Reform; Land Use; Irrigation; Agriculture and Environment

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