The Evolution of Property Rights: A Synthetic Overview

42 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2008 Last revised: 20 Feb 2014

See all articles by James E. Krier

James E. Krier

University of Michigan Law School

Date Written: November 24, 2008


In this paper I review, extend, and critique two contrasting approaches to the evolution of property rights. The legal literature on the subject is dominated by a conventional approach, which holds a virtual monopoly despite its many shortcomings, and the literature neglects an alternative approach, despite its many virtues (including, but not limited to, the virtue of responding to many of the conventional approach's deficiencies). The paper provides an overview of both approaches, including a brief intellectual history of each - and should thus inform readers without specialized knowledge of the subject but nevertheless interested in it - and aims among other things to make the alternative approach salient, in particular because an integrated treatment that draws on a combination of the two approaches does more explanatory work than can either approach on its own.

Keywords: Evolution of property rights, cooperative collective action (COOP), converge (CON)

JEL Classification: K11

Suggested Citation

Krier, James E., The Evolution of Property Rights: A Synthetic Overview (November 24, 2008). U of Michigan Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 08-021, U of Michigan Public Law Working Paper No. 131, Available at SSRN: or

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