Man and the Economy, 2014, 1(2), 209-30

30 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2014 Last revised: 23 Jul 2018

See all articles by Benito Arruñada

Benito Arruñada

Pompeu Fabra University - Department of Economics and Business; Barcelona GSE

Date Written: December 9, 2014


Governments and international development agencies often fail in their efforts to build and reform property and company registries. They implement misguided policies rooted in a poor understanding of the role that registries play in the modern economy. This work aims to remedy this situation by first presenting a theory of registries as market-enabling institutions which, by making private contracts verifiable by judges, enable truly impersonal (i.e., asset-based, in rem) trade without endangering property enforcement. The theory is then applied to discuss and guide major policy decisions that reformers face in the areas of land titling and business formalization, emphasizing the principle of registry independence, identifying courts as the key users of registries, clarifying the main choices of titling and formalization projects, and pointing out the presence of diseconomies of scope between contractual and administrative registries.

Keywords: property rights, land policy, land titling, registries, transaction costs, foreclosure crisis, business formalization, impersonal exchange

JEL Classification: D23, K11, K12, L85, G38, H41, O17, P48

Suggested Citation

Arruñada, Benito, Registries (December 9, 2014). Man and the Economy, 2014, 1(2), 209-30, Available at SSRN: or

Benito Arruñada (Contact Author)

Pompeu Fabra University - Department of Economics and Business ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas 25-27
Department of Economics and Business
Barcelona, 08005
+34 93 542 25 72 (Phone)
+34 93 542 17 46 (Fax)


Barcelona GSE ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas, 25-27
Barcelona, Barcelona 08005

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