Property Law


This chapter examines the economics of property rights and property law. Property law is a fundamental part of social organization and is also fundamental to the operation of the economy because it defines and protects the bundle of rights that constitute property. Property law thereby creates incentives to protect and invest in assets and establishes a legal framework within which market exchange of assets can take place. The purpose of this chapter is to show how the economics of property rights can be used to understand fundamental features of property law and related extra-legal institutions. The chapter will both examine the rationale for legal doctrine and the effects of legal doctrine regarding the exercise, enforcement, and transfer of rights. It will also examine various property rights regimes including open access, private ownership, common property and state property. The guiding questions are: How are property rights established? What explains the variation in the types of property rights? What governs the use and transfer of rights? And, how are property rights enforced?