ARTICLE: ECONOMIC EFFICIENCY VERSUS PUBLIC CHOICE: THE CASE OF PROPERTY RIGHTS IN ROAD TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 2008 Boston College Law School
Boston College Law Review

ARTICLE: ECONOMIC EFFICIENCY VERSUS PUBLIC CHOICE: THE CASE OF PROPERTY RIGHTS IN ROAD TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT

May, 2008

Boston College Law Review

49 B.C. L. Rev. 673

Author

JONATHAN REMY NASH *

Excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Two theories on the emergence and development of property rights regimes dominate the current law and economics literature. 1 One is the optimistic idea that economic efficiency drives the definition and resolution of property rights. 2 The second theory is grounded in public choice and is far more pessimistic. 3 On this account, property rights come about when those with the most power in fact want them to come about. 4 Commentators debate which of these theories, or perhaps more accurately what combination of them, best explains the development of property rights regimes in particular settings. 5

This Article addresses these questions in the specific setting of the societal response to a growing problem on the nation's roads: traffic congestion. 6 As land development continues to consume previously unoccupied land, more people drive more vehicles greater distances. 7 The result is traffic--lots of its. 8 And lots of traffic has many deleterious effects for society, including time delays, for both people and freight; the magnification of the environmental impact of driving; and, of late, "road rage." 9

Traffic congestion presents an excellent setting in which to gauge the effectiveness of the competing explanations for the development of property and governance regimes because the two outcomes toward which each alternative moves differ so clearly. 10 The public choice explanation leads to the "solution" of expanding roadway capacity, whereas economic efficiency argues in favor of more market-based regulatory regimes governing roadway access and usage. 11 In other ...
 
 
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