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The Value of Secure Property Rights: Evidence from Global Fisheries

That’s the title of a new NBER Working Paper by Corbett A. Grainger and Christopher Costello. The abstract:

Property rights are commonly touted as a solution to common pool resource problems. But in practice the security of these property rights varies substantially owing to differences in design. In fisheries, the design of individual transferable quotas (ITQs) varies widely; the consequences of these design differences on economic outcomes has not been studied. To test whether the security of these property rights affects asset values, we compile a unique dataset to examine the relationship between the exclusivity of property rights and the dividend price ratios for ITQs. We find evidence that stronger property rights lead to higher asset values and lower dividend price ratios in ITQ fisheries. This pecuniary effect of property rights security informs the current policy debate on the design of property rights institutions for managing natural resources.

Chalk that up as more evidence of the importance of ITQs and other forms of catch shares, which PERC has advocated for many years. This paper will also be presented at an upcoming PERC workshop entitled “Lessons Learned from Rights-Based Fisheries Management.”

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