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Economic Analysis of Property Law


Steven Shavell


Harvard Law School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

December 2002

Harvard Law and Economics Discussion Paper No. 399

Abstract:     
This part deals with the basic elements of property law. I begin in chapter 7 by examining the fundamental question of what justifies the social institution of property, that is, the rationale for the rights that constitute what we commonly call ownership. I also discuss examples of the emergence of property rights.

Then I consider a number of important issues about property rights. In chapter 8, I inquire about the division of property rights (property rights may be divided contemporaneously, over time, and according to contingency). In chapter 9, I study a variety of issues about the acquisition and transfer of property, including the discovery of unowned or lost property, registration systems for transfer of property, and the transfer of property at death. In chapter 10, I investigate "externalities" and property - problems concerning cooperation and conflict in the use of property, together with the resolution of such problems through bargaining and legal rules. In chapter 11, I discuss public property; here I address the question of why the state should own property, and also the manner of state acquisition of property through purchase or by the exercise of powers of eminent domain.

Finally, in chapter 12, I analyze the special topic of intellectual property.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 137

JEL Classification: H4, K2, K11, L5

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Date posted: January 15, 2003  

Suggested Citation

Shavell, Steven, Economic Analysis of Property Law (December 2002). Harvard Law and Economics Discussion Paper No. 399. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=370029 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.370029

Contact Information

Steven Shavell (Contact Author)
Harvard Law School ( email )
1575 Massachusetts
Hauser 406
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-3668 (Phone)
617-496-2256 (Fax)
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
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