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Rent-Seeking in Natural Resource Quota Allocations

John Boyce

Public Choice, 1998, vol. 96, issue 3-4, 94 pages

Abstract: This paper examines the incentives for rent-seeking in the allocation of natural resource quotas to competing user groups by political bodies. The political body has discretion in making the allocation, and competing user groups rent-seek to influence the allocation. The author investigates ways in which the governmental body can affect the behavior of the players by setting the ground rules for the competition. A political body can affect an allocatively (Pareto) efficient outcome by choosing an appropriate default (pre rent-seeking) policy. Surprisingly, an allocatively efficient default policy is unlikely to minimize social costs. However, winner-take-all default policies are likely to maximize, not minimize, rent-seeking. A competitive postallocation market reduces rent-seeking, but is not, either itself or in combination with an efficient default policy, capable of minimizing social costs. However, forcing winners in political redistributions to fully compensate losers both lowers the rent-seeking levels relative to a potential compensation criterion and, when used together with an efficient default policy, is capable of obtaining the first-best solution of an allocatively efficient allocation with zero rent-seeking. Copyright 1998 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

Date: 1998
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