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The Mystery of Property Rights: A U.S. Perspective

  • Naomi R. Lamoreaux (a1)

Economic development requires both secure property rights and the ability to reallocate property in response to technological and other changes. Significant reallocations have occurred repeatedly throughout U.S. history and have often been involuntary. This essay considers the question of how property rights can be subject to frequent involuntary reallocation and still be considered secure.

“Upon the sacredness of property civilization itself depends—the right of the laborer to his hundred dollars in the savings bank, and equally the legal right of the millionaire to his millions.”1

Andrew Carnegie

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Stuart Banner . Who Owns the Sky? The Struggle to Control Airspace from the Wright Brothers On. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008.

Yoram Barzel . Economic Analysis of Property Rights. 2nd edition. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Casper van Ewijk , and Michiel van Leuvensteijn , eds. Homeownership and the Labour Market in Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

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The Journal of Economic History
  • ISSN: 0022-0507
  • EISSN: 1471-6372
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-economic-history
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