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Thanks but No Thanks: A New Policy to Reduce Land Conflict

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  • Martin Dufwenberg
  • Gunnar Köhlin
  • Peter Martinsson
  • Haileselassie Medhin

Abstract

Land conflicts in developing countries are costly. An important policy goal is to create respect for borders. This often involves mandatory, expensive interventions. We propose a new policy design, which in theory promotes neighborly relations at low cost. A salient feature is the option to by-pass regulation through consensus. The key idea combines the insight that social preferences transform social dilemmas into coordination problems with the logic of forward induction. As a first, low-cost pass at empirical evaluation, we conduct an experiment among farmers in the Ethiopian highlands, a region exhibiting features typical of countries where borders are often disputed. Our results suggest that a low-cost land delimitation based on neighborly recognition of borders could deliver a desired low-conflict situation if accompanied by an optional higher cost demarcation process. Keywords: Conflict, land-conflict game, social preferences, forward induction, Ethiopia, experiment, land reform JEL codes: C78; C93; D63; Q15

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Paper provided by IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University in its series Working Papers with number 519.

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Date of creation: 2014
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Handle: RePEc:igi:igierp:519

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