4 Pages

Access and Distributional Impacts of Public and Private Land Ownership

WithSterling Brubaker

Daniel W. Bromley is marching out a platoon of economists who have been committed to the usual economic efficiency criteria and marching in a platoon of lawyers and politicians. He argues that the existence of a public interest in how land is used provides the rationale for public ownership. Bromley does acknowledge that markets are superior at some range of the spectrum of products, while public ownership is superior at another range, and that is a useful insight. Bob Nelson suggests that one might classify the land according to its principal use. Explicit political decisions on preserving wilderness or scenic areas, ought to be based on the best available knowledge of opportunity costs. Almost everyone would agree that some shifts of ownership of public lands would be justifiable purely from an administrative standpoint, though there will be argument about how much land might be involved.