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A Theory of Inalienable Property Rights

  • David Andolfatto

    (Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University)

Why do societies impose legal restrictions that limit the disposable property rights of some individuals? The explanation proposed here is that these constraints arise as an institutional response against financial markets that, in a sense, work 'too well'. That is, we demonstrate how a well-functioning financial market can potentially work against a social policy designed to ensure a basic minimum standard of living for all types of individuals. Inalienable property rights emerge as a natural institutional response to the relatively improvident tendencies of some members of society when a majority of individuals share a common distaste for neighborhood squalor.

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Paper provided by University of Waterloo, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 99004.

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Date of creation: Nov 1999
Date of revision: Nov 1999
Handle: RePEc:wat:wpaper:99004
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  1. George J. Stigler, 1967. "Imperfections in the Capital Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 287.
  2. Kehoe, Timothy J & Levine, David K, 1993. "Debt-Constrained Asset Markets," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(4), pages 865-88, October.
  3. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David, 1988. "Cash versus Kind, Self-selection, and Efficient Transfers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 691-700, September.
  4. L. Wade, 1988. "Review," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 58(1), pages 99-100, July.
  5. Hart, O. & Moore, J., 1991. "A Theory of Debt Based on the Inalienability of Human Capital," Working papers 592, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  6. Fay, S. & Hurst, E. & White, M.J., 1998. "The Bankruptcy Decision: Does Stigma Matter?," Papers 98-01, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
  7. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1981. "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 393-410, June.
  8. Lawrance, Emily C, 1991. "Poverty and the Rate of Time Preference: Evidence from Panel Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(1), pages 54-77, February.
  9. Bergstrom, Theodore C, 1999. " Systems of Benevolent Utility Functions," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 1(1), pages 71-100.
  10. Jaffee, Dwight M & Russell, Thomas, 1976. "Imperfect Information, Uncertainty, and Credit Rationing," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 90(4), pages 651-66, November.
  11. Galenson, David W, 1981. "The Market Evaluation of Human Capital: The Case of Indentured Servitude," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(3), pages 446-67, June.
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