Ownership Concentration: Lessons from Natural Resources

Casado PĂ©rez, Vanessa | August 28, 2022

Concentration of ownership over land or other resources is both a sign and a cause of inequality. Concentration of ownership makes access to such resources difficult for those less powerful, and it can have negative effects on local communities that benefit from a more distributed ownership pattern. Such concentration goes against the antimonopoly principles behind the homesteading land policies and the legal regimes that regulate many natural resources. This Essay suggests that where concentration is a concern, one might draw lessons for reform by looking to the field of natural resources law, which employs a range of deconcentration mechanisms affecting fisheries, mineral extraction, farmland, and the like that have proven a considerable success. These deconcentration mechanisms have taken mostly two forms: restrictions on how much one rights holder can hold and restrictions on who can hold rights. These deconcentrating measures are more likely to be adopted in resources with a defined, relatively small market, with homogeneous uses and users, and where community externalities from concentration are assessable.