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Transaction costs can encourage Coasean bargaining

  • Alex Robson

When there are three parties, it is well known that the Coase Theorem may not hold even when there are no transaction costs, due to the emptiness of the core of the corresponding cooperative game [Aivazian and Callen (1981)]. We show that the standard Coasean bargaining game involving three parties is strategically equivalent to an asymmetric three player majority game. Hence, when there are three parties, the Coase Theorem fails if and only if the core of the corresponding three player majority game is empty. We use this equivalence result to derive all instances in which the Coase Theorem will and will not hold with three parties, and show that the Coase Theorem will actually hold most (over 80 per cent) of the time. We also demonstrate, in contrast to Aivazian and Callen (2003), that it is always possible to find a set of transaction costs which, when introduced into a frictionless bargaining situation, will cause an empty core to become non-empty. In other words, with suitably designed transaction costs, it is possible for the Coase Theorem to hold in cases where, in the absence of those transaction costs, it would fail to hold. When there are three parties, rather than hindering agreements, transaction costs can encourage Coasean bargaining.

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Paper provided by Griffith University, Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics in its series Discussion Papers in Economics with number economics:201208.

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Date of creation: Aug 2012
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Handle: RePEc:gri:epaper:economics:201208
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  1. Varouj Aivazian & Jeffrey Callen, 2003. "The Core, Transaction Costs, and the Coase Theorem," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 287-299, December.
  2. Coase, R H, 1981. "The Coase Theorem and the Empty Core: A Comment," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(1), pages 183-87, April.
  3. Aivazian, Varouj A & Callen, Jeffrey L, 1981. "The Coase Theorem and the Empty Core," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(1), pages 175-81, April.
  4. Nabil Al-Najjar, Luca Anderlini & Leonardo Felli, 2003. "Transaction Costs and the Robustness of the Coase Theorem," Working Papers gueconwpa~03-03-28, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
  5. Barbara Luppi & Francesco Parisi, 2012. "Politics with(out) Coase," International Review of Economics, Springer, vol. 59(2), pages 175-187, July.
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  7. Alex Robson & Stergios Skaperdas, 2005. "Costly Enforcement of Property Rights and the Coase Theorem," ANU Working Papers in Economics and Econometrics 2005-455, Australian National University, College of Business and Economics, School of Economics.
  8. Parisi, Francesco, 2003. " Political Coase Theorem," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 115(1-2), pages 1-36, April.
  9. Gordon Tullock, 1959. "Problems of Majority Voting," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 67, pages 571.
  10. Martin J Osborne & Ariel Rubinstein, 2009. "A Course in Game Theory," Levine's Bibliography 814577000000000225, UCLA Department of Economics.
  11. Bernholz, Peter, 1997. "Property rights, contracts, cyclical social preferences and the Coase theorem: A synthesis," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 419-442, September.
  12. Mueller,Dennis C., 2003. "Public Choice III," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521894753.
  13. Dixit, Avinash & Olson, Mancur, 2000. "Does voluntary participation undermine the Coase Theorem?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 309-335, June.
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