The European Journal of Comparative Economics

ISSN: 1824-2979

EJCE Year: 2015, June. Volume: 12 - Issue: 1

Are both dimensions of property rights 'efficient'?

by Pál Czeglédi

Start page: 41 - End page: 69

Keywords: property rights; efficient institutions; economic development; culture

Jel code: P14; P16; O11

Abstract:

The "efficient institutions view" on property rights claims that property rights emerged and are enforced when their enforcement maximizes net wealth. In a cross-country pattern this is usually understood as the prediction that economic development creates the incentives to provide higher quality property rights, but this claim is highly debated. This paper tries to take various property rights scholars' arguments seriously and see property rights quality as a two dimensional concept, the two dimensions being the definition and the assignment of property rights. The paper derives a measure for these two dimensions of property rights and shows that it is the assignment dimension which is determined by development, while the definition dimensions is rather determined by cultural factors, especially those deeper factors that seem to reflect a long-run effect of Western European culture. According to the paper, the main reasons behind this may be the difference in the expropriability of income generated by an improvement of each dimension, and the way such improvements may or may not affect countries' catching up process.

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