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A Political Theory of the Origin of Property Rights: Airport Slots

William H. Riker and Itai Sened
American Journal of Political Science
Vol. 35, No. 4 (Nov., 1991), pp. 951-969
DOI: 10.2307/2111501
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2111501
Page Count: 19
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
A Political Theory of the Origin of Property Rights: Airport Slots
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Abstract

We develop a theory of the origin of property rights by specifying the necessary conditions for them to emerge: (1) the underlying good must be scarce, (2) prospective right-holders must desire the right, and (3) right-grantors, that is, government officials, must perceive an advantage from enforcing respect for the right. Our theory, wherein the motive force is both holders' desire to possess and grantors' desire to grant, thus differs from neoclassical models, which omit government entirely, and from contractarian models wherein the motive force comes wholly from prospective holders. We illustrate our theory with an account of a newly granted right for airport time slots (1986), perhaps the only such grant for which there is enough surviving detail on its origin to allow for investigation of the significance of the several conditions for the grant.

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