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Even in the absence of absolute property rights, ex-post bargaining may lead to efficient distribution of goods, CHRISTOPH ENGEL explains in this video. The findings of this research thus extend the domain of the Coase theorem. In the experiment, with a society of two individuals and a single commodity, a good ends up with the individual who values it most even if only relative property rights – i.e., rights only against other parties to a contract – are provided.


Christoph Engel is Director of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods (Bonn, Germany) and has held teaching positions at several universities, including the position of Chair for Experimental Law and Economics at Erasmus University Law School in Rotterdam, Netherlands. He is also an Honorary Professor of the University of Osnabrück, Germany. His research focus includes Behavioral and Experimental Law and Economics.
Engel has been serving as a member of several advisory boards, including the Academic Board to the German Minister of Economics and Labor, and is a member of the Academia Europaea.


Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods

Initially founded as a Max Planck institute that investigates the provision of collective goods, the ­institute has developed into an international hub that focuses in its research mainly on applied economics and on behavioral law. Moreover, the institute hosts three independent research groups on “moral courage”, “economic cognition”, and “mechanisms of normative change”. The set of researchers from various disciplines, such as economics, law, psychology, and sociology, constitutes a truly interdisciplinary environment that facilitates a cross-fertilization of ideas. 

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Original publication

Bargaining in the Absence of Property Rights: An Experiment

Engel Christoph and Bar-Gill Oren
MPI Collective Goods Preprint
Published in 2015

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