Helping the Third World Through Property Rights

Doug Bandow at American Spectator argues that the best way to help third world countries is to protect their property rights. Citing studies by the Property Rights Alliance, Bandow points out that countries with the strongest property rights — including intellectual property — tend to do better economically.

Property rights always have been important. Barun S. Mitra, head of India’s Liberty Institute, who wrote the foreword to the latest IPRI ratings, observes that “A modern economy is built on clear ownership of property whether tangible or intangible — be it land, shares, or intellectual property.” Property rights promote justice, allowing people at all economic strata to enjoy the fruit of their labor. More important from the economic standpoint, property rights create an extraordinarily powerful incentive to raise and use resources productively and efficiently.

Alas, the challenge to economic freedom has grown in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Notes Kelsey Zahourek, the PRA’s executive director, “many people across the globe are continuing to see their basic property rights stripped away from them in the shadow of a global economic crisis.”

Bandow also notes a correlation between strong property rights and liberty in general. In short, countries with strong protections of private property and high protections of liberty tend to have stronger economic performance. Who would have thought?


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