In this book the author examines the problems encountered in negotiations among claimants and the political and economic considerations that influence property rights arrangements. The histories of mineral rights, rights to range and timber land, and fishery and crude oil production rights in the United States are examined and reveal a surprising variety of contractual negotiations and economic outcomes. The author concludes that in addition to an analysis of distributional outcomes, an examination of the details of the political bargaining underlying property rights contracts is essential to an understanding of why rights emerge as they do. The book is an important contribution to both property rights theory and to American economic history.
'The case studies are enjoyable to read ... Libecap has been a major contributor to the literature on the efficiency gains to be had from more specificity in property rights assignments. The book reinforces that view but more importantly addresses the more difficult question as to why societies allow themselves to be victims of the tragedy of the commons.' Journal of Economic History 'The book well summarises Professor Libecap's well-known and highly respected work on the emergence of property rights, with a more general analytical chapter added ... This is a fine book.' Journal of Comparative Economics