Does the Coase theorem hold in real markets? An application to the negotiations between waterworks and farmers in Denmark

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The Coase theorem depends on a number of assumptions, among others, perfect information about each other’s payoff function, maximising behaviour and zero transaction costs. An important question is whether the Coase theorem holds for real market transactions when these assumptions are violated. This is the question examined in this paper. We consider the results of Danish waterworks’ attempts to establish voluntary cultivation agreements with Danish farmers. A survey of these negotiations shows that the Coase theorem is not robust in the presence of imperfect information, non-maximising behaviour and transaction costs. Thus, negotiations between Danish waterworks and farmers may not be a suitable mechanism to achieve efficiency in the protection of groundwater quality due to violations of the assumptions of the Coase theorem. The use of standard schemes or government intervention (e.g. expropriation) may, under some conditions, be a more effective and cost efficient approach for the protection of vulnerable groundwater resources in Denmark.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)169-176
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2012

ID: 34516592