A Theory of Inalienable Property Rights
Why do democratic societies often impose legal restrictions that render various assets or entitlements inalienable, thereby limiting the disposable property rights of individuals? The explanation proposed here is that these constraints arise as an institutional response against private debt markets that, in a sense, work `too well'. That is, I demonstrate how a well-functioning financial market can potentially work against a social policy designed to ensure a basic minimum standard of living for all types of individuals. Inalienable property rights and debt constraints emerge as a natural institutional response to the relatively improvident tendencies of some members of society when a majority of individuals share a common distaste for neighborhood squalor. Pourquoi les sociétés démocratiques imposent-elles souvent des restrictions légales limitant les droits ou actifs transférables des individus? L'explication proposée ici est que ces contraintes apparaissent comme une réponse institutionnelle contre des marchés privés des dettes qui, dans un certain sens, fonctionnent `trop bien'. En effet, je démontre comment un marché financier fonctionnant bien peut aller à l'encontre d'une politique sociale sensée assurer un niveau de vie de base minimum pour toutes les catégories d'individus. Des droits de propriété inaliénables et des contraintes sur les dettes émergent comme des réponses institutionnelles naturelles au manque de prévoyance de certains membres de la société lorsqu'une majorité des individus partage un dégoût commun pour la misère avoisinante.
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