Chapter

Property Rights as Solutions to the Problems of Open Access: Options and Constraints

Gary D. Libecap

in Global Environmental Commons

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199656202
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191742149 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199656202.003.0013
Property Rights as Solutions to the Problems of Open Access: Options and Constraints

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This chapter examines why property rights that directly address externalities and link individual incentives with social objectives for resource use are not the first policy response to open access. Indeed, the creation of property rights often comes late in the experience of rent dissipation. This is despite the impressive record of success in addressing open access losses. The chapter argues that they are adopted only when their costs are offset by the aggregate rents that are saved from overexploitation. Because the transaction costs involved in assigning, measuring, and enforcing formal property rights can be large, the value of the resource and the nature of uncertainty determine the optimal time for introducing them. Crises that suddenly and sharply raise benefits and lower uncertainty, speed this process.

Keywords: property rights; open access; rent dissipation; crises

Chapter.  7309 words. 

Subjects: Economic Development and Growth

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