DEFINITION of 'Expropriation'

The act of taking of privately owned property by a government to be used for the benefit of the public. In the United States, the government has the right to take property through eminent domain. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution provides that private property will not "be taken for public use without just compensation." While there is compensation, the expropriation occurs without the property owner's consent.

BREAKING DOWN 'Expropriation'

Many, but not all, countries support the belief that the expropriating country should pay adequate, timely and effective compensation to the involved party. Properties taken through eminent domain are often used for public utilities, highways and railroads. Countries can also expropriate foreign businesses located within the country. Former socialist Chilean President Salvador Allende, for example, expropriated U.S. businesses located in Chile in the early 1970s.

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