Guest Lecture: Wealth-Destroying Private Property Rights by prof. Colin Harris of St. Olaf College

November 13, 2018 at 4:305:30 p.m.

TimeNovember 13, 2018 at 4:305:30 p.m.
LocationBeck 101

The Gustavus Workshop in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics presents Colin Harris on Wealth-Destroying Private Property Rights

Colin Harris is the Tomson Family Assistant Professor of Law and Economics at St. Olaf College. He received his Ph.D. in Economics from George Mason University in 2018 where he specialized in Law and Economics and Public Choice. His research focuses broadly on the economics of property rights and the implications for development and free enterprise. He's primarily interested in understanding issues that result from property rights being poorly attuned to the underlying market conditions. His research has appeared in journals such as World Development, Rationality and Society, and the Journal of Institutional Economics.

Professor Harris will present his paper Wealth-Destroying Private Property Rights which was published recently in World Development.

According to conventional wisdom, privatizing the commons will create wealth. Yet in cases found throughout the developing world, privatizing the commons has destroyed wealth. To explain this phenomenon, we develop a theory of wealth-destroying private property rights. Privatization's effect on social wealth depends on whether privatizing an asset confers net gains or imposes net losses on society. The decision to privatize, however, depends on whether privatizing an asset confers net gains or imposes net losses on property decision makers. When decision makers are residual claimants, these effects move in tandem; privatization occurs only if it creates social wealth. When decision makers are not residual claimants, these effects may diverge; privatization occurs if it benefits decision makers personally even if privatization destroys social wealth. We apply our theory to understand wealth-destroying land privatization in Kajiado, Kenya.

PostedApr 17, 2019
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