Gary D. Libecap


Bren School of Environmental Science & Management

and Department of Economics

4420 Donald Bren Hall

University of California

Santa Barbara, CA 93106



Tel: (805) 893-8611

Mobile : (520) 444-1695

Fax: (805) 893-5587


Curriculum Vitae 





Gary Libecap is Professor of Corporate Environmental Management in the Donald Bren School of Environmental Science & Management and Professor of Economics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He also is Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, MA., Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and Senior Fellow at the Property and Environment Research Center, PERC, Bozeman, Montana. He received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and a BA from the University of Montana.  His research focuses on the role of property rights institutions in addressing the open access losses for natural resources such as fisheries and freshwater, as well as the role of water markets in encouraging efficient use.





Selected Publications

Contracting Problems and Regulation:  The Case of the Fishery, 1982 American Economic Review 72(5): 1005-22 with R. N. Johnson


Contractual Responses to the Common Pool:  Prorationing of Crude Oil Production, 1984 American Economic Review 74(1): 87-97 with S.N. Wiggins


The Influence of Private Contractual Failure on Regulation:  The Case of Oil Field Unitization, 1985 Journal of Political Economy 93(4): 690-714 with S.N. Wiggins

Oil Field Unitization:  Contractual Failure in the Presence of Imperfect Information, 1985 American Economic Review 75(3): 368-85 with S. N. Wiggins

The Self-Enforcing Provisions of Oil and Gas Unit Operating Agreements: Theory and Evidence, 1999 Journal of Law, Economics and Organization 15(2): 526-48 with James Smith

The Determinants and Impact of Property Rights: Land Titles on the Brazilian Frontier, 1996 Journal of Law, Economics and Organization 12 (1): 25-60 with Lee Alston and Robert Schneider

Regulatory Remedies to the Common Pool: The Limits to Oil Field Unitization, 2001 Energy Journal 22(1): 1-26 with James Smith

Small Farms, Externalities, and the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, 2004 Journal of Political Economy 112(3): 665-94 with Zeynep Hansen

The Assignment of Property Rights on the Western Frontier: Lessons for Contemporary Environmental and Resource Policy2007 Journal of Economic History 67(2): 257-91

Transferring Water in the American West: 1987-2005, 2007 Michigan Journal of Law Reform 40(4): 1021-53 with Jedidiah Brewer, Robert Glennon, and Alan Ker.

Assigning Property Rights in the Common Pool. Implications of the Prevalence of First-Possession Rules for ITQs in Fisheries 2007 Marine Resource Economics, 22(1): 407-24.

Water Markets in the West: Prices, Trading and Contractual Forms, 2008 Economic Inquiry 46(2): 91-112 with Jedidiah Brewer, Robert Glennon, and Alan Ker

Chinatown Revisited: Owens Valley and Los Angeles—Bargaining Costs and Fairness Perceptions of the First Major Water Rights Exchange 2008 Journal of Law Economics and Organization 24(2)

Positioning Fisheries in a Changing World, 2008 Marine Policy 32 (4) 630-34 with R. Quentin Grafton, Ray Hillborn, Lori Ridgeway, Dale Squires, Meryl Williams, Serge Garcia, Theodore Groves, James Joseph, Kieran Kelliher, Tom Kompas, Gary D. Libecap, Carl Gustaf Lundin, Mitsutaku Makino, Thorolfur Matthiasson, Richard McLouglin, Anna Parma, Gustavo San Martin, Ben Satia, Carl-Christian Schmidt, Mariee Tait, Lin Xiu Zhang

Open-Access Losses and Delay in the Assignment of Property Rights 2008 Arizona Law Review 50 (2): 379-408

Law and the New Institutional Economics: Water Markets and Legal Change in California, 1987-2005, 2008 Washington University Journal of Law and Policy 26: 186-214 with Jedidiah Brewer, Michael Fleishman, Robert Glennon, and Alan Ker

Property Rights and The Public Trust Doctrine in Environmental Protection and Natural Resource Conservation   with Jedidiah Brewer, 2009 Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Vol. 53 No. 1, pp.1-17

Water Woes: Using Markets to Quench the Thirst of the American West Milken Institute Quarterly, October 2010, 58-68

Water Rights and Markets in the U.S. Semi-Arid West: Efficiency and Equity Issues, The Evolution of Property Rights Related to Land and Natural Resources, Property in Land and Other Resources, Edited by Daniel H. Cole & Elinor Ostrom, November 2011

The Economic Institutions of Water, National Bureau of Economic Research Reporter, 2011

The Demarcation of Land and the Role of Coordinating Institutions with Dean Lueck, June 2011, Journal of Political Economy

An Integrated Assessment of Water Markets: A Cross-Country Comparison, with Grafton, R.Q.; McGlennon, S.; Landry, C.; O’Brien, B., Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, 2011, Vol. 5 No. 2, pp. 219-239

Institutional Path Dependence in Climate Adaptation: Coman’s “Some Unsettled Problems of Irrigation,” February 2011, American Economic Review

A Comparative Assessment of Water Markets: Insights from the Murray-Darling Basin of Australia and the Western US R. Quentin Grafton, Gary D. Libecap ,Eric C. Edwards, R.J. (Bob) O’Brien, Clay Landry, Water Policy, 2011

Efficiency Advantages of Grandfathering in Rights-Based Fisheries Management, 2011, Annual Review of Environment and Resource Economics with Terry Anderson and Ragnar Arnason

Large Scale Institutional Changes: Land Demarcation within the British Empire Journal of Law and Economics 2012, with Trevor O'Grady and Dean Lueck

Addressing Global Environmental Externalities: Transaction Costs Considerations Journal of Economic Literature 2014


Selected Books

Environmental Markets: A Property Rights Approach, 2014 Cambridge University Press with Terry Anderson

Owens Valley Revisited: A Reassessment of the West’s First Great Water Transfer, 2007 Stanford University Press

The Cyclic Nature of Innovation:  Connecting Hard Sciences with Soft Values, 2007 Volume XVII, Advances in the Study of Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Economic Growth, Gary D. Libecap, Editor, Elsevier Scientific

Technological Innovation: Generating Economic Results, 2008 Volume XVIII Advances in the Study of Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Economic Growth, Gary D. Libecap, Editor, Elsevier Scientific

The Federal Civil Service System and the Problem of Bureaucracy:  The Economics and Politics of Institutional Change, 1994 University of Chicago Press and NBER, with R.N. Johnson  

The Political Economy of Regulation:  An Historical Analysis of Government and the Economy, 1994, University of Chicago Press co-editor Claudia Goldin 


Working Papers

Interest Groups, Information Manipulation in the Media, and Public Policy: The Case of the Landless Peasants Movement in Brazil, 2008 with Lee Alston and Bernardo Mueller

Climate Variability and Water Infrastructure: Historical Patterns on Crop Production and Flood Control with  Zeynep Hansen and Scott Lowe


  • Competitive Strategies for New Environmental Ventures: ESM 274: 274syllabus2010.docx
  • Seminar: Economics and Environmental Science (ESM 595EE)
  • Seminar in Environmental Economics (ECON 594EE)
  • Group Projects (ESM 401)