Excluding the Endowment Effect?

I. Introduction

                The Coase Theorem has no doubt left an indelible mark on Law and Economics. The theorem proposes that, absent transaction costs, property will be allocated efficiently regardless of initial entitlement.[1] Widespread acceptance of this assertion has given rise to much legal analysis aimed at reducing transaction costs in order to lubricate bargaining and achieve efficient allocation of property rights. On the whole this is not a bad thing – transaction costs are a major obstacle to efficient bargaining and should be reduced. However, recent studies which indicate the existence of the endowment effect have lead many scholars to re-examine their initial assumptions regarding the importance initial entitlement.[2]

II. Background

                A. The Coase Theorem

                The main premise of the Coase Theorem is that, absent transaction costs, property rights will be efficiently allocated regardless of initial entitlement.[3] This conclusion leads to two further assertions Read the rest