A Two-Dimensional Framework for Analyzing Property Rights Regimes
95 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2003
This article proposes an integrative framework wherein all property regimes can be expressed as a function of two fundamental characteristics: (i) whether the dominant right is a use right or an exclusion right (or some degree thereof), and (ii) the size of the party jointly holding the dominant right. This article will show how all property regimes can be characterized by these two variables. By analyzing property regimes in such a framework, property regimes can be related to each other, and conditions can be identified under which the regimes function best. I introduce four fundamental property regimes: the Individual Use, Joint Use, Individual Exclusion and Joint Exclusion regimes. The Individual Use regime is one in which an individual owns property and enjoys very strong and unfettered use rights vis-a-vis the rest of the world, and no one has any exclusion rights with respect to the property. The Joint Use regime is one in which all of the persons in the world own property jointly, and have strong use rights, while no one has any exclusion rights - in effect, open access. The Individual Exclusion regime is an extreme form of Heller's anticommons regime - where all individuals have an exclusion right to property, and no one has any effective use right. Finally, a Joint Exclusion regime is one in which all of the persons in the world have a joint exclusion right to property, and no one has any effective use right. These four fundamental property regimes form the cornerstones of a framework I develop in this paper, which can be expressed in two-dimensional matrix form. From this framework, the efficiency and appropriateness of different property regimes can be analyzed for different resource situations.
Keywords: Property regimes, anticommons, open access
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