From fisheries to cap-and-trade: property rights and resource management

sexta-feira, Novembro 18, 2011

For Immediate Release
Contact: Anthony Flint 617-503-2116

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (November 18, 2011) – The tension between dwindling natural resources and private property rights – from California’s 1849 gold rush to the fisheries off the shores of Iceland today -- is explored in a new book co-edited by Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom and published by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.

Property in Land and Other Resources, co-edited by Elinor Ostrom and Daniel H. Cole, both of Indiana University, also includes a foreword by Nobel Laureate Douglass C. North.

Over the past several years, much has been written about property rights in land and natural resources by scholars across disciplines including economics, political science, history, and law. This book, based on a 2010 Lincoln Institute conference, questions the tendency of social science literature to oversimplify the concept of property rights by assuming that only a few forms of property rights are appropriate for the effective use and conservation of resources, and that property held by a group or community will be overexploited—the so-called “tragedy of the commons.”

In fact, diverse property systems have evolved organically to address the use of scarce natural resources. In the keynote chapter, Thráinn Eggertsson examines property rights institutions and the environment using six case studies from his native Iceland, where relatively simple and transparent institutions build on social norms and practices and have general applicability. Dependence on fishing, for example, has led to a system of licenses and quotas that limit harvests and maintain stocks.

The topics addressed in the other chapters and accompanying commentaries include: the nature and variety of existing property systems; new thinking about the California gold rush; the role of psychological entitlement in property allocation; evolving property regimes governing fisheries; the evolution of zoning; attributes of property regimes governing water resources; the nature of property rights in tradable pollution permits; how regulations sometimes create property; and mechanisms for ameliorating property conflicts that arise from the presence of endangered species on privately owned lands.

The book concludes with a look at climate change as the ultimate “tragedy of the commons” and suggests how developed countries could devise and agree on a system for taking in immigrants from nations inundated by rising seas.


Foreword, Douglass C. North

Introduction, Daniel H. Cole and Elinor Ostrom

Property Systems

1. Opportunities and Limits for the Evolution of Property Rights Institutions, Thráinn Eggertsson

2. The Variety of Property Systems and Rights in Natural Resources, Daniel H. Cole and Elinor Ostrom

The California Gold Rush

3. Gold Rush Legacy: American Minerals and the Knowledge Economy, Karen Clay and Gavin Wright; Commentary, Peter Z. Grossman

4. Gold Rushes Are All the Same: Labor Rules the Diggings, Andrea G. McDowell; Commentary, Mark T. Kanazawa


5. Property Creation by Regulation: Rights to Clean Air and Rights to Pollute, Daniel H. Cole; Commentary, Wallace E. Oates

6. Rights to Pollute: Assessment of Tradable Permits for Air Pollution, Nives Dolšak; Commentary, Shi-Ling Hsu


7. Who Owns Endangered Species? Jason F. Shogren and Gregory M. Parkhurst; Commentary, James Wilson

8. Enclosing the Fishery Commons: From Individuals to Communities, Bonnie J. McCay; Commentary, Anthony Scott

Land and Water

9. The Evolution of Zoning Since the 1980s: The Persistence of Localism, William A. Fischel; Commentary, Robert C. Ellickson

10. The Meaning of Native American Land Ownership: A Study in Psychological Entitlement, Reference Levels, and Valuation Disparity, C. Leigh Anderson and Richard O. Zerbe; Commentary, John A. Baden

11. Playing by Different Rules? Property Rights in Land and Water, Richard A. Epstein; Commentary, Henry E. Smith

12. A Political Analysis of Property Rights, William Blomquist; Commentary, Edella C. Schlager

13. Water Rights and Markets in the U.S. Semiarid West: Efficiency and Equity Issues, Gary D. Libecap; Commentary, Lee J. Alston

Global Commons Issues

14. Climate Change: The Ultimate Tragedy of the Commons? Jouni Paavola; Commentary, V. Kerry Smith

15. Sinking States, Katrina Miriam Wyman; Commentary, Richard A. Barnes

About the editors

Daniel H. Cole is professor of law and public and environmental affairs at Indiana University.

Elinor Ostrom is the Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science and professor of public and environmental affairs at Indiana University.

Property in Land and Other Resources

Edited by Daniel H. Cole & Elinor Ostrom

November 2011 / 504 pages / Paper / $35.00

ISBN: 978-1-55844-221-4

The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy is a leading resource for key issues concerning the use, regulation, and taxation of land. Providing high-quality education and research, the Institute strives to improve public dialogue and decisions about land policy.

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