Property Rights Theory and the Reform of Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining in Developing Countries

  •  Fabian Clausen    
  •  Maria Laura Barreto    
  •  Amir Attaran    


Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM) is a global economic phenomenon that is widespread especially in developing countries. It provides livelihoods for millions of people, yet is often primarily associated with environmental and social problems. A key obstacle to reforming this sector is the fact that most ASM takes place in the informal sector, outside legal regimes. This paper discusses creation and reform of legal regimes governing ASM from the perspective of property rights theory. The particularly relevant law and economics- justification of property rights is revisited in detail and the strengths and weaknesses of this theory are highlighted in the context of development. The application of other theoretical justifications of property law provides further valuable insights into how the formalization of the sector could be approached.  

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