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Pluralism and Regulatory Failure: When Should Takings Trigger Compensation?


  • Brennan, Timothy

    () (Resources for the Future)

  • Boyd, James

    () (Resources for the Future)


The paper evaluates the desirability of compensation for regulatory takings. To do so, we describe a public choice model in which regulators' decisions are influenced by competing political interests. We consider how the political incentives of landowners, environmentalists, and taxpayers are affected by alternative compensation rules and in turn describe the regulatory decisions made in such a pluralistic political environment. Modeling the regulator's incentives in this way leads to the conclusion that compensation should not be paid unless environmentalists and property owners have unequal influence politically. Moreover, the model has several counter-intuitive implications when political influence is not balanced. For instance, if environmentalists are disenfranchised they should support compensation, since it reduces property owner opposition to regulation. In contrast, if environmentalists wield disproportionate influence, penalizing rather than compensating landowners can induce more efficient regulation by stimulating landowner opposition. The analysis emphasizes the deadweight social costs of compensation and the desirability of compensation rules conditioned on both diminished land value and irreversible landowner investments.

Suggested Citation

  • Brennan, Timothy & Boyd, James, 1996. "Pluralism and Regulatory Failure: When Should Takings Trigger Compensation?," Discussion Papers dp-96-09, Resources For the Future.
  • Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-96-09

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hermalin, Benjamin E, 1995. "An Economic Analysis of Takings," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(1), pages 64-86, April.
    2. Kaplow, Louis & Shavell, Steven, 2002. "Economic analysis of law," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 25, pages 1661-1784 Elsevier.
    3. Romer, Thomas & Rosenthal, Howard, 1979. "The elusive median voter," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 143-170, October.
    4. Becker, Gary S., 1985. "Public policies, pressure groups, and dead weight costs," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 329-347, December.
    5. Miceli, Thomas J & Segerson, Kathleen, 1994. "Regulatory Takings: When Should Compensation Be Paid?," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(2), pages 749-776, June.
    6. Timothy J. Brennan & James Boyd, 2006. "Political Economy And The Efficiency Of Compensation For Takings," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 24(1), pages 188-202, January.
    7. Fischel, William A & Shapiro, Perry, 1988. "Takings, Insurance, and Michelman: Comments on Economic Interpretations of "Just Compensation" Law," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(2), pages 269-293, June.
    8. Lawrence Blume & Daniel L. Rubinfeld & Perry Shapiro, 1984. "The Taking of Land: When Should Compensation Be Paid?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 99(1), pages 71-92.
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