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Publicly Available Published by De Gruyter January 31, 2011

Some Caution about Property Rights as a Recipe for Economic Development

  • David Kennedy

Choices about the meaning and allocation of property rights pose the sorts of policy questions familiar to economists thinking about development policy. If we are seeking economic growth of this or that sort, who should have access to what resources and on what conditions? “Clear and strong property rights” are neither an escape from these questions nor a ready-made answer. Property law is simple one place in which struggles over these questions have been carried out. In this short essay, I review these common, if mistaken, ideas about property rights in the West in light of the Western experience. My objective is to place the strategic choices embedded in any property regime in the foreground and lead one to hesitate before accepting conventional neo-liberal wisdom about the importance of “clear” or “strong property rights” for economic development.

Published Online: 2011-1-31

©2011 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/Boston

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