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Easter Island’s Collapse : A Tale of a Population Race

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  • David, DE LA CROIX

    (UNIVERSITE CATHOLIQUE DE LOUVAIN, Department of Economics)

  • Davide, DOTTORI

Abstract

The Easter Island tragedy has become an allegory for ecological catastrophe and a warning for the future. In the economic literature the collapse is usually attributed to irrational or myopic behaviors in the context of a fragile ecosystem. In this paper we propose an alternative story involving non-cooperative bargaining between clans to share the crop. Each clan’s bargaining power depends on its threat level when fighting a war. The biggest group has the highest probability of winning. A clan’s fertility is determined ex ante by each group. In the quest for greater bargaining power, each clan’s optimal size depends on that of the other clan, and a population race follows. This race may exhaust the natural resources and lead to the ultimate collapse of the society. In addition to well-known natural factors, the likelihood of a collapse turns out to be greater when the cost of war is low, the probability of succeeding in war is highly responsive to the number of fighters, and the marginal return to labor is not too low. We analyze whether these factors can account for the difference between Easter and Tikopia Islands. The paper also makes a methodological contribution in that it is the first fertility model to include strategic complementarities between groups’ fertility decisions

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Université catholique de Louvain, Département des Sciences Economiques in its series Discussion Papers (ECON - Département des Sciences Economiques) with number 2007005.

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Length: 36
Date of creation: 01 Mar 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ctl:louvec:2007005

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Keywords: Fertility; War; Bargaining Power; Collapse; Natural Resources;

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. López, Ramón & Schiff, Maurice, 2013. "Interactive dynamics between natural and man-made assets: The impact of external shocks," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 1-15.
  2. Yutao Han & Patrice Pieretti & Skerdilajda Zanaj & Benteng Zou, 2011. "Asymmetric Competition among Nation States. A differential game approach," CREA Discussion Paper Series 11-19, Center for Research in Economic Analysis, University of Luxembourg.
  3. Luca Marchiori & Patrice Pieretti & Benteng Zou, 2008. "Brain drain, remittances, and fertility model," Working Papers 408, Bielefeld University, Center for Mathematical Economics.
  4. de la Croix, David & Gosseries, Axel, 2012. "The natalist bias of pollution control," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 271-287.
  5. Mariani, Fabio & Pérez-Barahona, Agustín & Raffin, Natacha, 2010. "Life expectancy and the environment," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 798-815, April.
  6. Lagerlöf, Nils-Petter, 2013. "Violence and property rights," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 312-328.
  7. Davide Fiaschi, 2009. "Natural Resources, Social Conflict and Poverty Trap," Discussion Papers 2009/82, Dipartimento di Economia e Management (DEM), University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.
  8. Luca Marchiori & Patrice Pieretti & Benteng Zo, 2008. "Brain Drain, Remittances, and Fertility," Economie Internationale, CEPII research center, issue 115, pages 9-42.
  9. He, Qichun, 2011. "Weather, fertility, and land: land curse in economic development in a unified growth theory," MPRA Paper 35420, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  10. Sam Tang, 2008. "Scientific Research and Growth Volatility," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 08-11, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
  11. Raouf BOUCEKKINE & Giorgio FABBRI & Fausto GOZZI, 2011. "Life span and the problem of optimal population size," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2011018, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
  12. Nguyen Thang Dao & Julio Dávila, 2013. "Can geography lock a society in stagnation?," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 13037, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.

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