Sunday, June 20, 2010

Property Rights in Korea

I don't know of any developed nation without a developed set of property rights.
I know many nations that don't have property rights.

Korea developed a system of individual property rights in the late 1940s. Surveys were done and customary rights were made explicit and legal, although some restrictions were placed on their transferability early on. There was also a huge buy-out of traditional and Japanese land-holders buy the government which in turn sold the land, at marginal prices, to its tenants. See this article for an in-depth discussion.
De Soto is a huge fan of promoting land reform and property rights in developing countries. But how those reforms can happen in individual countries must be dependent on a intimate awareness of how land relates to power in local contexts.

Ostrom has shown that individual property rights are not the only way to go. But I am not aware of any modern nation that primarily functions with an alternative system.
I am vaguely aware of skepticism that such reforms could occur in many African nations anytime soon but I don't know the specific arguments. Anyone want to posit a few?


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