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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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  • David Andolfatto, 2000. "A Theory of Inalienable Property Rights," Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers 110, CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal.
  • Handle: RePEc:cre:crefwp:110

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    1. J. Atsu Amegashie, 2009. "Third-Party Intervention in Conflicts and the Indirect Samaritan's Dilemma," CESifo Working Paper Series 2695, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Oded Stark & Marcin Jakubek, 2016. "Can a Concern for Status Reconcile Diverse Social Welfare Programs?," Research on Economic Inequality,in: Inequality after the 20th Century: Papers from the Sixth ECINEQ Meeting, volume 24, pages 235-246 Emerald Publishing Ltd.
    3. Stark, Oded & Falniowski, Fryderyk & Jakubek, Marcin, 2016. "Consensus income distribution," Discussion Papers 250120, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).
    4. Stark, Oded, 2006. "Inequality and migration: A behavioral link," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 91(1), pages 146-152, April.
    5. Sorger, Gerhard & Stark, Oded, 2013. "Income redistribution going awry: The reversal power of the concern for relative deprivation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 1-9.
    6. Oded Stark & Marcin Jakubek & Martyna Kobus, 2015. "A bitter choice turned sweet: How acknowledging individuals’ concern at having a low relative income serves to align utilitarianism and egalitarianism," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 25(3), pages 541-557, July.
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    8. Stark, Oded, 2013. "Stressful Integration," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 1-9.
    9. World Bank, 2015. "India Land Governance Assessment," World Bank Other Operational Studies 24420, The World Bank.
    10. Deininger, Klaus & Jin, Songqing, 2009. "Securing property rights in transition: Lessons from implementation of China's rural land contracting law," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(1-2), pages 22-38, May.
    11. Dirk Krueger, 2006. "Public Insurance against Idiosyncratic and Aggregate Risk: The Case of Social Security and Progressive Income Taxation," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 52(4), pages 587-620, December.
    12. Kartik B. Athreya & Xuan S. Tam & Eric R. Young, 2009. "Are harsh penalties for default really better?," Working Paper 09-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
    13. Oded Stark, 2017. "Migration when Social Preferences are Ordinal: Steady-state Population Distribution and Social Welfare," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 84(336), pages 647-666, October.
    14. Athreya, Kartik B. & Tam, Xuan S. & Young, Eric R., 2014. "Loan Guarantees for Consumer Credit Markets," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue 4Q, pages 297-352.
    15. Jeremy Lise, 2006. "On-the-Job Search and Precautionary Savings: Theory and Empirics of Earnings and Wealth Inequality," 2006 Meeting Papers 137, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    16. World Bank, 2007. "India - Land Policies for Growth and Poverty Reduction," World Bank Other Operational Studies 7818, The World Bank.
    17. Dilip Mookherjee & Ulf von Lilienfeld-Toal, 2005. "Bankruptcy Law, Bonded Labor and Inequality," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series DP-155, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    18. World Bank, 2007. "India : Land Policies for Growth and Poverty Reduction," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15791.
    19. Dilip Mookherjee, 2006. "Decentralization, Hierarchies, and Incentives: A Mechanism Design Perspective," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 44(2), pages 367-390, June.
    20. Deininger, Klaus & Hilhorst, Thea & Songwe, Vera, 2014. "Identifying and addressing land governance constraints to support intensification and land market operation: Evidence from 10 African countries," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 76-87.
    21. Deininger, Klaus, 2010. "Towards sustainable systems of land administration: Recent evidence and challenges for Africa," African Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, African Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 5(1), September.
    22. J. Amegashie & Bazoumana Ouattara & Eric Strobl, 2013. "Moral hazard and the composition of transfers: theory and evidence from cross-border transfers," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 279-301, August.

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