Property rights and market institutions: The case of Russian property reform

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Sciences


Richard D. Schwartz


Property rights, Market institutions, Russian, Reform

Subject Categories

Economics | Property Law and Real Estate | Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies


This study provides an analysis of property rights reform in Russia, which is still a core part of the decade-long effort to establish market institutions. The research design of the dissertation uses document and quantitative analysis to examine the progress of Russian property rights reform since the inception of transition and the first experiments with mass privatization until the end of the 1990s.

The theoretical approach builds upon the notion of institutional economics and explores the validity of two alternative agendas for social change: (i) marketization by design, and (ii) evolutionary emergence of market institutions. The study provides a critical analysis of the analytical tools involved in approaching the problem of private ownership within the discourse of law and economics. Document analysis of Russian legislation since early 1990 looks at how substantive law is shifting the allocation of business activities from the State towards market entrepreneurship, and how the new legal rules support or hinder market access and secured transactions. Preliminary statistical analysis of institutional measures for quality of property rights searches for indicative explanations about cross-country variance, and maps Russia's relative ranking on various dimensions of institutional quality of property rights.

The main findings suggest that, despite the current gaps, the new set of constitutional and private civil rules concerning property rights is adequate for carrying Russian transition towards consolidation into a viable market economy. More leverage of social capital, development of an impartial judicial system, and increased exposure to international trade flows of value-added services are of significant importance for the further development of better property rights in Russia.


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