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Commons as Insurance and the Welfare Impact of Privatization

  • Jean-Marie Baland
  • Patrick Francois


It is shown here that despite the efficiency gains from privatization, when markets are incomplete, all individuals may be made worse off by privatization, even when the resource is equitably privatized. Such market incompleteness is common in the developing world and can explain the often encountered resistance to efficiency enhancing privatizing reforms, especially in the case of village level landholdings and forests. The advantage of commonly held property arises because of its superior insurance properties (which tend to provide income maintenance in low states). Sufficient conditions are established under which any feasible insurance scheme under private property cannot ex ante Pareto dominate allocations under the commons.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK in its series The Centre for Market and Public Organisation with number 03/069.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bri:cmpowp:03/069
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  7. de Meza, David & Gould, J. R., 1985. "Free access vs private ownership: A comparison," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 387-391, August.
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  9. Cohen, Jon S. & Weitzman, Martin L., 1975. "A Marxian model of enclosures," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(4), pages 287-336, November.
  10. Weitzman, Martin L., 1974. "Free access vs private ownership as alternative systems for managing common property," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 225-234, June.
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  12. Brito, Dagobert L. & Intriligator, Michael D. & Sheshinski, Eytan, 1997. "Privatization and the distribution of income in the commons," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 181-205, May.
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