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Stochastic wealth dynamics and risk management among a poor population

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  • Travis J. Lybbert
  • Christopher B. Barrett
  • Solomon Desta
  • D. Layne Coppock

Abstract

We use herd history data collected among pastoralists in southern Ethiopia to study stochastic wealth dynamics among a poor population. Although covariate rainfall shocks plainly matter, household-specific factors, including own herd size, account for most observed variability in wealth dynamics. We find no support for the tragedy of the commons hypothesis. Past studies may have conflated costly self-insurance with stocking rate externalities. Biophysical shocks move households between multiple dynamic wealth equilibria - the lowest suggesting a poverty trap - according to nonconvex path dynamics. These findings have broad implications for development and relief strategies among a poor population vulnerable to climatic shocks. Copyright 2004 Royal Economic Society.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Royal Economic Society in its journal The Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 114 (2004)
Issue (Month): 498 (October)
Pages: 750-777

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Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:114:y:2004:i:498:p:750-777

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  1. Sieff, Daniela F., 1999. "The effects of wealth on livestock dynamics among the Datoga pastoralists of Tanzania," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 1-25, January.
  2. Huysentruyt, Marieke & Barrett, Christopher B. & McPeak, John G., 2002. "Social Identity And Manipulative Interhousehold Transfers Among East African Pastoralists," Working Papers 14746, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  3. Stefan Dercon, 1996. "Wealth, risk and activity choices: cattle in Western Tanzania," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/1996-08, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  4. Fafchamps, Marcel, 1998. "The Tragedy of the Commons, Livestock Cycles and Sustainability," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 7(3), pages 384-423, October.
  5. Fafchamps, Marcel & Gavian, Sarah, 1996. "The Spatial Integration of Livestock Markets in Niger," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 5(3), pages 366-405, October.
  6. Binswanger, Hans P & McIntire, John, 1987. "Behavioral and Material Determinants of Production Relations in Land-Abundant Tropical Agriculture," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(1), pages 73-99, October.
  7. Upton, Martin, 1986. "Production policies for pastoralists: The Borana case," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 17-35.
  8. MICHAEL R. CARTER & Frederic Zimmerman, 1998. "The Dynamic Cost and Persistence of Asset Inequality in an Agrarian Economy," Wisconsin-Madison Agricultural and Applied Economics Staff Papers 416, Wisconsin-Madison Agricultural and Applied Economics Department.
  9. Dasgupta, Partha & Ray, Debraj, 1986. "Inequality as a Determinant of Malnutrition and Unemployment: Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 96(384), pages 1011-34, December.
  10. Marcel Fafchamps & Chris Udry & Katherine Czukas, . "Drought and Saving in West Africa: Are Livestock a Buffer Stock?," Working Papers 97013, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  11. John G. McPeak & Christopher B. Barrett, 2001. "Differential Risk Exposure and Stochastic Poverty Traps Among East African Pastoralists," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 83(3), pages 674-679.
  12. Azariadis, Costas & Drazen, Allan, 1990. "Threshold Externalities in Economic Development," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(2), pages 501-26, May.
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  14. Banerjee, Abhijit V & Newman, Andrew F, 1994. "Poverty, Incentives, and Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 211-15, May.
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