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Property as an economic concept: Reconciling legal and economic conceptions of property rights in a Coasean framework

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Abstract

Adopting a simplistic view of Coase (1960), most economic analyses of property rights disregard both the key advantage that legal property rights (that is, in rem rights) provide to rightholders in terms of enhanced enforcement, and the difficulties they pose to acquirers in terms of information asymmetry about legal title. Consequently, these analyses tend to overstate the role of "private ordering" and disregard the two key elements of property law: first, the essential conflict between property (that is, in rem) enforcement and transaction costs; and, second, the institutional solutions created to overcome it, mainly contractual registries capable of making truly impersonal (that is, asset-based) trade viable when previous relevant transactions on the same assets are not verifiable by judges. This paper fills this gap by reinterpreting both elements within the Coasean framework and thus redrawing the institutional foundations of both property and corporate contracting.

Suggested Citation

  • Benito Arruñada, 2012. "Property as an economic concept: Reconciling legal and economic conceptions of property rights in a Coasean framework," Economics Working Papers 1308, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  • Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:1308
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Balbuzanov, Ivan & Kotowski, Maciej H., 2017. "Endowments, Exclusion, and Exchange," Working Paper Series rwp17-016, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    2. Arruñada Benito, 2014. "Registries," Man and the Economy, De Gruyter, vol. 1(2), pages 1-22, December.
    3. A. Nicita & M. Rizzolli & H. Smith, 2012. "Exploring Coase’s world: an introduction," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 59(2), pages 111-120, July.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    property rights; enforcement; transaction costs; registries.;

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • K11 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Property Law
    • K12 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Contract Law
    • L85 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Real Estate Services
    • G38 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • P48 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Political Economy; Legal Institutions; Property Rights; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Regional Studies

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