The Meaning of Property 'Rights': Law vs. Economics?

24 Pages Posted: 5 May 2000  

Daniel H. Cole

Indiana University Maurer School of Law; Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs; Indiana University Bloomington - Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis

Peter Z. Grossman

Butler University - College of Business Administration

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 19, 2000

Abstract

Property rights have become fundamental in economic analysis. Given their importance, it might be expected that there would be some consensus in the economics literature about the meaning of property rights. But no such consensus appears to exist. Economists define property rights in various and inconsistent ways, some of which diverge significantly from the conventional understandings of legal scholars and judges.

This paper explores ways in which definitions of property rights in the economic literture diverge from conventional legal understandings, and how those divergences can create inter-disciplinary confusion and bias economic analyses. Indeed, some economists' idiosyncratic definitions of property rights, if used to guide policy, could lead to suboptimal economic outcomes.

JEL Classification: K11, A12, D23, Q15

Suggested Citation

Cole, Daniel H. and Grossman, Peter Z., The Meaning of Property 'Rights': Law vs. Economics? (April 19, 2000). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=219408 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.219408

Daniel H. Cole

Indiana University Maurer School of Law ( email )

211 S. Indiana Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs ( email )

1315 East Tenth Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

Indiana University Bloomington - Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis ( email )

Indiana University Bloomington
Bloomington, IN
United States
(812) 855-4421 (Phone)

Peter Z. Grossman (Contact Author)

Butler University - College of Business Administration ( email )

Indianapolis, IN 46208
United States
317-940-9727 (Phone)

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