Property rights in the coal industry: efficiency and legal change

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


This dissertation is a study of the development of property rights in the coal industry as defined by Federal legislation. Previous analyses have argued that property rights develop efficiently and have employed a neoclassical model to study this development in the political market. This study asserts that the neoclassical model is inappropriate for analyzing the political market.

This study concentrates on the coal industry, analyzing the historical events surrounding development of the property rights structure. A price theoretic approach is employed to determine whether changes in the property rights structure results in greater efficiency for the coal industry.

The evidence provided in the study does not support use of the neoclassical model. The model is too constrained and does not allow the inclusion of nonmarket factors in the analysis.