This paper analyzes the effect of alternative institutional arrangements on the conservation of endangered species and economic activity on private land. Because a landowner does not capture the full value of species conservation, her preferences on land use will not coincide with social preferences. Under current law, the landowner has incentives to invest in lowering conservation value and to deny access to regulators in order to prevent collection of information. Paying compensation corrects many of these perverse incentives. An alternative approach is to limit the ability of landowners to affect the regulatory outcome. Whether it is better to entice landowners to make socially efficient decisions by paying compensation or to limit the ability of landowners to affect outcomes through changes in the regulatory regime depends on both practical implementation difficulties and distributive justice considerations. Copyright 1997 Western Economic Association International.
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