The co-production of property rights: Theory and evidence from a mixed -right system in southern Mexico
This dissertation presents a framework for explaining variation in property right institutions as a result of interactions among decision-makers at three levels; formal government actors, the community of right-holders and individual right-holders. It uses a simple game-theoretic model where enforcement is the mechanism linking levels of interaction to the property institution. Property rights are understood as a function of the value of the resource to which a right has been assigned and the cost of enforcement. It recognizes that representatives of formal government, including bureaucrats, regulators and various types of law enforcement and monitoring agents do not uniformly enforce claims to property. Right-holders make decisions about contributions to the production of a property right institution based on expectations of external third-party enforcement, levels of peer-enforcement and their own ability to individually enforce property claims. This combination of different types of enforcement activities determines the structure of rights that ultimately results.
The theoretical framework is applied to the empirical case of a mixed-right system among communities bordering a National Park in the southern Mexican state of Campeche. Data collection incorporated a structured survey administered across a selection of twelve communities and semi-structured interviews with public and private agency officials. The results support the institutional economics perspective that resource value is fundamental to understanding property right institutions, and that enforcement activity influences the type of right. However it provides additional evidence that it is the actions by different types of enforcement agents; bureaucratic, community and individual, which ultimately determines the specific structure of property rights. While the research focuses on property rights to environmental resources, the framework is useful for understanding rights across a variety of public policy areas.
0617: Public administration
0768: Environmental science