Volume 6

Formalization, Possession, and Ownership

Thomas W. Merrill

This paper is a comment on the work of Hernando de Soto, who has done so much to highlight the importance of property rights, especially in the context of what I will call migrant communities within developing countries. These are the shantytowns of Peru, the favelas of Brazil, and the bidonvilles of Haiti. De Soto characterizes these communities as “extralegal zones.” They consist, in his words, of “modest homes cramped together on city perimeters, a myriad of workshops in their midst, armies of vendors hawking their wares on the streets, and countless crisscrossing minibus lines.” I am interested in de Soto’s work on these migrant communities for two reasons, which are related.

Download PDF

6 BRIGHAM-KANNER PROPERTY RIGHTS CONF. J. 113 (2017).