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Private enforcement and social efficiency

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This paper makes precise the distributional consequences and social efficiency of private enforcement of property rights. Properties of different values are subject to predation and owners choose between self-defense and private enforcement services. A distributional conflict of interest arises as private protection purchased by rich owners deflects predators on low value properties. The market structure of enforcement and development affect the distribution of property income through relative changes in the security of high and low values property. Moreover, because of the externality enforcers impose on poorer owners, the availability of private enforcement may constrain the policy of a benevolent State.

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