“Property” rights and the ways of protecting entitlements – an interdisciplinary approach


  • Maria Tereza Leopardi Mello IE-UFRJ, RJ


property rights, entitlements, bundle of rights, law and economics


This paper discusses the concept of “property” rights in an interdisciplinary perspective (Law and Economics) in order to compose an analytical conceptual framework to issues related to appropriability involved in public goods (PG) and common pool resources (CPR) analysis. Firstly, we discuss the differences between legal and economic concepts of property rights, trying to integrate economic and legal analytical elements: a right is an opportunity for current or future uses of an asset that is guaranteed by legal system (an enforceable power to maintain the control over economic opportunities). Although economists may not be concerned if some opportunity is guaranteed (or not) by law, nor whether its entitlement is made by means of property or by some other kind of right, these differences also matter for economic analysis. To deal with this question, we need to open the “black box” of the so called “property” rights: a) identifying and analyzing the different ways in which rights are entitled – from a legal perspective (Hohfeld) and in the footsteps of studies analyzing the economic relevance of the differences between property and possession, or property, liability and inalienability (Calabresi and Melamed); b) breaking down the concept of property rights in many faculties and analyzing them as a bundle of rights (Schlager and Ostrom).By way of conclusion, we discuss the possibilities of integrating these approaches and explore some of the implications of the study. From a public policies perspective, a more detailed understanding may assist in policy formulation (e.g., to break down and assign specific rights to different holders etc.), and designing new forms of entitlements, or even the creation of new "assets" that could become the subject of rights.