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The State’s Enforcement Monopoly and the Private Protection of Property


  • Christoffel Grechenig

    () (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn)

  • Martin Kolmar

    () (Institute of Economics, University of St. Gallen)


The modern state has monopolized the legitimate use of force. This concept is twofold. First, the state is empowered with enforcement rights; second, the rights of the individuals are (partly) restricted. In a simple model of property rights with appropriation and defense activity, we show that a restriction of private enforcement is beneficial for the property owner, even if there are no economies of scale from public protection. We emphasize the role of the state as a commitment device for a certain level of enforcement. However, commitment will only work if the state can regulate private protection. A ban of private enforcement measures can even be beneficial in situations where there would be no private enforcement at first place because the “shadow” of defense has a negative impact on the investments in property rights infringements. From a legal perspective, our approach emphasizes a regulation of victim behavior as opposed to the standard approach which focuses on the regulation of criminal behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Christoffel Grechenig & Martin Kolmar, 2011. "The State’s Enforcement Monopoly and the Private Protection of Property," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2011_24, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
  • Handle: RePEc:mpg:wpaper:2011_24

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Baumann, Florian & Friehe, Tim, 2013. "Private protection against crime when property value is private information," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 73-79.

    More about this item


    Contests; Property Rights; Enforcement; Private Protection; Law;

    JEL classification:

    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • P14 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Property Rights
    • P37 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - Legal
    • P48 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Political Economy; Legal Institutions; Property Rights; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Regional Studies
    • N40 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - General, International, or Comparative

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