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Columbia Law School

Intellectual Property Law

2011

Journal of Law & Economics

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Full-Text Articles in Law

Making Coasean Property More Coasean, Thomas W. Merrill, Henry E. Smith Jan 2011

Making Coasean Property More Coasean, Thomas W. Merrill, Henry E. Smith

Faculty Scholarship

In his pioneering work on transaction costs, Ronald Coase presupposed a picture of property as a bundle of government-prescribed use rights. Not only is this picture not essential to Coase’s purpose, but its limitations emerge when we apply Coase’s central insights to analyze the structure of property itself. This leads to the Coase corollary: in a world of zero transaction costs, the nature of property does not matter to allocative efficiency. However, as with the Coase theorem, the real implication is for our world of positive transaction costs: we need to subject the notion of property to a ...