The Elgar Companion to the Economics of Property Rights
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The Elgar Companion to the Economics of Property Rights

Edited by Enrico Colombatto

Economics is a matter of choice and growth, of interaction and exchange among individuals. Because property rights define the rules of these interactions and the objects of exchange, it is vital to fully understand the institutions and implications of the various property-rights regimes. With over 20 original and specially commissioned chapters, this book takes the reader from the historical and moral foundations of the discipline to the frontiers of scholarly research in the field.
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Chapter 7: On the Coexistence of Different Property-Rights Systems – and its Consequences for Economic Growth and Development

Stefan Voigt


7 On the coexistence of different property rights systems – and its consequences for economic growth and development Stefan Voigt* Introduction The Hindu tradition of burning a widow on the funeral pyre of her dead husband was officially abolished in British India in 1829. Yet, instances of ‘suttee’ – as this tradition is also called – still occur today. Also in India, although a dowry is officially prohibited, advertisements in the classified sections of many newspapers make little effort to disguise the fact that a substantial dowry is expected. Many states the world over have tried to ban the consumption of alcohol by outlawing its manufacture, transportation or sale. The United States even changed its constitution, the eighteenth amendment establishing prohibition (and the twenty-first repealing it). Enormous fortunes were made as a result of prohibition, Al Capone probably being the most famous figure of the time. The prohibition of trading some goods and services has often had very similar effects; just think of prostitution or the drugs trade. In many ‘multicultural’ societies, property rights systems partially overlap: is a Muslim teacher allowed to wear her head-shawl while teaching in a German school? Do Sikhs have to wear a helmet while riding a motorbike? Are Muslims – and Jews – allowed to kill animals according to their tradition although this way of killing animals is generally prohibited? How are German courts to decide whether fathers of Turkish or Kurdish girls can have their daughters killed because their behaviour has brought disgrace on...

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