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Natural-Resource Exploitation with Costly Enforcement of Property Rights

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  • HOTTE, Louis

Abstract

This paper proposes a model of natural-resource exploitation when private ownership requires costly enforcement activities. For a given wage rate, it is shown how enforcement costs can increase with labor's average productivity on a resource site. As a result, it is never optimal for the site owner to produce at the point where marginal productivity equals the wage rate. It may even be optimal to exploit at a point exhibiting negative marginal returns. An important parameter in the analysis is the prevailing wage rate. When wages are low, further decreases in the wage rates can reduce the returns from resource exploitation. At sufficiently low wages, positive returns can be rendered impossible to achieve and the site is abandoned to a free-access exploitation. The analysis provides some clues as to why property rights may be more difficult to delineate in less developed countries. It proposes a different framework from which to address normative issues such as the desirability of free trade with endogenous enforcement costs, the optimality of private decisions to enforce property rights, the effect of income distribution on property rights enforceability, etc.

Suggested Citation

  • HOTTE, Louis, 1997. "Natural-Resource Exploitation with Costly Enforcement of Property Rights," Cahiers de recherche 9720, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
  • Handle: RePEc:mtl:montde:9720
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/1866/480
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Max Iván Aladave Ruiz & Cecilia Garcìa-Peñalosa, 2008. "Education, Corruption and the Natural Resource Curse," Working Papers halshs-00340997, HAL.
    2. Hotte, Louis & Long, Ngo Van & Tian, Huilan, 2000. "International trade with endogenous enforcement of property rights," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 25-54, June.
    3. van der Ploeg, Frederick & Rohner, Dominic, 2012. "War and natural resource exploitation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(8), pages 1714-1729.
    4. Henri Atangana ondoa, 2014. "The determinants of corporate corruption in Cameroon," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 34(2), pages 938-950.
    5. Hotte, Louis & McFerrin, Randy & Wills, Douglas, 2013. "On the dual nature of weak property rights," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 659-678.
    6. Ollivier, Hélène, 2012. "Growth, deforestation and the efficiency of the REDD mechanism," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 64(3), pages 312-327.
    7. Hotte, Louis, 2001. "Conflicts over property rights and natural-resource exploitation at the frontier," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 1-21, October.

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