Creating Property Rights in Public Resources: The Role of Equity

EPA Grant Number: U915167
Title: Creating Property Rights in Public Resources: The Role of Equity
Investigators: Raymond, Leigh S.
Institution: University of California - Berkeley
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: October 1, 1997 through October 1, 2000
Project Amount: $102,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1997) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Engineering and Environmental Chemistry , Fellowship - Chemistry and Materials Science


The objective of this research project is to answer the question: How does an emphasis on equity rather than efficiency in creating new legal (or de jure) property institutions lead to different institutional structures and outcomes?


My examples for this research are three cases in which the government created a new de jure institution of private property: U.S. public lands grazing permits under both the Forest Service and the Grazing Service (now the BLM), as well as tradable emissions permits for SO2 under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.

My goal is to demonstrate in these cases that efficiency and equity do not lead to similar outcomes, unless one subscribes to a very narrow and impoverished view of equity. Furthermore, I hope to demonstrate that any comparative research focused on efficiency only is going to be one-dimensional, and assume that unstated visions of equity that go along mildly with the efficiency argument. I expect to reach these results by the following process:

1. By identifying what view of equity best describes the institution of property created in each of the three cases. This step will draw on the views of four classic property theorists—John Locke, G. W. Hegel, David Hume, and Morris Cohen.

2. By demonstrating that alternative views of equity justify different types of institutional arrangements in each case.

3. By observing that in only one case, that of clean air, an equity-based solution lacks any significant differences from the efficiency solution.

4. By considering the role of equity in potential future creations of de jure property regimes in public resources such as Antarctica or the deep ocean.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, property rights, market-based policies, acid rain, grazing rights, public lands, equity, tradable permits., RFA, Economic, Social, & Behavioral Science Research Program, Air, Air Quality, Market mechanisms, market-based mechanisms, market incentives, grazing permits, tradable pollution permits, emissions trading, prpoerty rights

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1998
  • 1999
  • Final