Measuring Property Rights Institutions
How do the different elements in the standard bundle of property rights – such as the right of possession or the right of transfer – differentially impact outcomes, such as urban development? This paper incorporates insecure property rights into a standard model of urban land prices and density, and makes predictions about investment in land and property, informality, and the efficiency of land use. Our empirical analysis links data on institutions related to land titling and transfer with multiple urban outcomes, from 190 countries. The evidence is generally consistent with the model’s predictions, and more broadly with the Demsetz’s (1967) approach to property rights institutions. Indeed, we document world-wide improvements in the quality of institutions facilitating property transfer over time.
We are deeply grateful to Lawrence Jia for outstanding assistance with this research, and to Elodie Bataille, Marie Lily Delion, Gary Hufbauer, Spencer Kwon, Nick Lore-Edwards, Robbie Minton, Rita Ramalho, Judith Trasancos, and Aigerim Zhanibekova for helpful comments. The findings, interpretations, and conclusions expressed in this paper are entirely those of the authors. They do not necessarily represent the views of the World Bank and its affiliated organizations, or those of the Executive Directors of the World Bank or the governments they represent. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Edward L. Glaeser
I have received speaking fees from organizations that organize members that invest in real estate markets, including the National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers and the Pension Real Estate Association.