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Property Rights, Regulatory Capture, and Exploitation of Natural Resources

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  • Christopher Costello
  • Corbett Grainger

Abstract

We study how the strength of property rights to individual extractive firms affects a regulator’s choice over exploitation rates for a natural resource. The regulator is modeled as an intermediary between current and future resource harvesters, rather than between producers and consumers, as in the traditional regulatory capture paradigm. When incumbent resource users have weak property rights, they have an incentive to pressure the regulator to allow resource extraction at an inefficiently rapid rate. In contrast, when property rights are strong, this incentive is minimized or eliminated. We build a theoretical model in which different property right institutions can be compared for their incentives to exert influence on the regulator. The main theoretical prediction - that stronger individual property rights will lead the regulator to choose more economically efficient extraction paths - is tested empirically with a novel panel data set from global fisheries. Exploiting the variation in timing of catch share implementation in our panel data, we find that regulators are significantly more conservative in managing resources for which strong individual property rights have been assigned to firms; this is especially pronounced for resources that have been overexploited historically.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher Costello & Corbett Grainger, 2015. "Property Rights, Regulatory Capture, and Exploitation of Natural Resources," NBER Working Papers 20859, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20859
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Corbett A. Grainger & Christopher Costello, 2016. "Distributional Effects of the Transition to Property Rights for a Common-Pool Resource," Marine Resource Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(1), pages 1-26.
    2. repec:kap:enreec:v:70:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s10640-017-0122-y is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • L2 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q22 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Fishery

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