Bryan Leonard

School of Sustainability
Arizona State University

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
Institutional Affiliation: Arizona State University

NBER Working Papers and Publications

July 2020Property Rights without Transfer Rights: A Study of Indian Land Allotment
with Christian Dippel, Dustin Frye: w27479
Governments sometimes place restrictions on the transferability of property rights to prevent the property’s owners from making “mistakes” such as selling their property under value. Such restrictions have often been applied to poor and indigenous communities around the world. The potentially high cost of such transfer-restrictions is that they limit or even eliminate the property’s value as collateral in credit markets. We investigate this cost over the long run, using a natural experiment whereby millions of acres of reservation lands were allotted to Native American households under differing land-titles between 1887–1934. We compare non-transferable plots to neighboring plots held without transfer restrictions using fine-grained satellite imagery to study differences in land developmen...
April 2016Collective Action by Contract: Prior Appropriation and the Development of Irrigation in the Western United States
with Gary D. Libecap: w22185
We analyze the economic determinants and effects of prior appropriation water rights that were voluntarily implemented across an immense area of the US West, abruptly replacing common-law riparian water rights. At the same time and place, vast private irrigation infrastructure added to the US capital stock. We build upon Ostrom and Gardner (1993) and model irrigation as a coordination problem to show how prior appropriation facilitated greater private infrastructure development than was possible under the baseline riparian system by i) securing access to water against future entry and ii) defining a property right that formed the basis for contracting around collective action problems among numerous, heterogeneous agents. We construct a dataset of 7,800 rights in Colorado, established betw...

Published: Bryan Leonard & Gary D. Libecap, 2019. "Collective Action by Contract: Prior Appropriation and the Development of Irrigation in the Western United States," The Journal of Law and Economics, vol 62(1), pages 67-115.

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