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

  • Naomi R. Lamoreaux (a1)
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0022050711001537
  • Published online: 06 June 2011
Abstract

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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