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Unearthing T. Rex: The Law and Economics of Paleontological Finds

Author

Listed:
  • Paul Hallwood

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Thomas J. Miceli

    (University of Connecticut)

Abstract

This paper assesses the economic characteristics of the balance that federal law aims to achieve between the interests of paleontologists and amateur and commercial collectors of fossils on US federal lands. The objective function is taken to be the maximization of the social value of these resources. Allowing ‘open access’ to amateurs and commercial collectors would maximize search activity. However, as a fossil’s scientific value is not necessarily their priority, they may under-invest in the recovery of such information. We trace how US federal law has tried to strike a balance between search activity and scientific recovery. We also comment favorably on the developing trend of promoting professional (paleontologist)-amateur partnerships in both search and recovery.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Hallwood & Thomas J. Miceli, 2014. "Unearthing T. Rex: The Law and Economics of Paleontological Finds," Working papers 2014-07, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2014-07
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    File URL: http://web2.uconn.edu/economics/working/2014-07.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Paul Hallwood & Thomas J. Miceli, 2006. "Murky Waters: The Law and Economics of Salvaging Historic Shipwrecks," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, pages 285-302.
    2. Lueck, Dean, 1995. "The Rule of First Possession and the Design of the Law," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(2), pages 393-436, October.
    3. Mortensen, Dale T, 1982. "Property Rights and Efficiency in Mating, Racing, and Related Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 968-979.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Fossils; scientific value; search and recovery; paleontology;

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • K11 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Property Law
    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D

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