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Grasping for the Heavens: 3-D Property Rights and the Global Commons

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Yandle, Bruce
Journal: Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum
Volume: 10
Date: 1999
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/2501
Sector: Global Commons
Subject(s): global commons
property rights
Abstract: "With the attention of policymakers worldwide focused on environmental problems that transcend national borders and reach even to the heavens heights, an examination of property rights solutions to global problems is appropriate. The institution of private property is an effective way of dealing with many environmental problems. However, before the efficacy of property rights solutions to global environmental problems can be addressed, the prospects for the emergence of property rights in the global commons must be analyzed. Predictions about the effectiveness of a property rights regime for the global commons are of little relevance, if such a regime cannot arise or is unlikely to arise at the global level. Thus, this article is about institutions and how they evolve -- specifically, how the institution of private property emerges and evolves and whether or not the institution might emerge at the global level. This inquiry does not concern property rights in their broadest sense; some kind of rights will surely develop in the global commons. Rather, this article addresses the more interesting question regarding the extent to which a future people will develop property institutions that support a liberal order, one that accommodates efficiency-improving market incentives and yields wealth-enhancing gains from voluntary trade. In other words, this article addresses the prospects for the emergence of 3-D property rights, private rights that can be defined, defended, and divested or transferred."

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