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 22: Property Rights in Higher Education

Ryan C. Amacher and Roger E. Meiners


Ryan C. Amacher and Roger E. Meiners Introduction Property rights are generally understood to be claims to resources that are formally or informally recognized to be under the control of a person or group of people. As most of the chapters in this volume discuss, we are generally concerned with resources that are privately held. When we move away from the world of individual decision makers and profit-driven organizations that allocate property, we are in the world of public sector control of resources or control by non-profit organizations. While the same self-interested individuals are at work in the public and non-profit sectors as are at work in proprietary organizations, the lack of profit incentives causes different results to evolve. One large market dominated by public and non-profit organizations is higher education. Higher education would exist in the absence of public intervention, as historically it was, at least in the United States, dominated by churches (Meiners 1995). For-profit colleges command a small fraction of the market. It is hard to compete with the public purse and subsidies provided by donors to non-profit organizations. Our focus is not on why higher education is dominated by government and non-profit organizations but what we observe the incentives to be of participants in these organizations. Differences are observed between government and non-profit colleges. Self-interest is always at work but is constrained and directed by the rules of the game. The implicit and explicit property rights within...

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