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Protecting Antiquities: A Role for Long-Term Leases?


  • Michael Kremer, Tom Wilkening


Most countries prohibit the export of certain antiquities. This practice often leads to illegal excavation and looting for the black market, which damages the items and compromises the archaeological record. We consider the prospect of long-term antiquity leases and sales contracts with a pre-arranged repurchase option. Such mechanisms could raise revenue for the country of origin, while preserving long-term national ownership rights. We show that leases, which leave the country of origin in charge of future recontracting, are optimal mechanisms for resolving adverse selection, and that they have good properties for addressing corruption. Option contracts deliver more revenue now and are therefore useful for reducing credit constraints. Allowing those who disclose the existence of antiquities the right to lease objects overseas for a xed period could create incentives to reveal the location of hidden objects.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Kremer, Tom Wilkening, 2010. "Protecting Antiquities: A Role for Long-Term Leases?," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 1114, The University of Melbourne.
  • Handle: RePEc:mlb:wpaper:1114

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Seema Jayachandran & Michael Kremer, 2006. "Odious Debt," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 82-92, March.
    2. Bénabou, Roland & Tirole, Jean, 2007. "Identity, Dignity and Taboos: Beliefs as Assets," CEPR Discussion Papers 6123, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Alvin E. Roth, 2007. "Repugnance as a Constraint on Markets," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(3), pages 37-58, Summer.
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    More about this item


    Antiquities; Corruption; Hold Up; Illicit Trade; Market Design;

    JEL classification:

    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • Q34 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Natural Resources and Domestic and International Conflicts
    • Z11 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economics of the Arts and Literature


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