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Reflections on "Some Unsettled Problems of Irrigation"

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  • Elinor Ostrom

Abstract

It is instructive to read the article that Katharine Coman published in the first issue of the American Economic Review to gain insight into the problems of collective action related to irrigation in the American West. One gains further understanding of the problems Coman identifies by using a social-ecological system (Ostrom 2007, 2009) to organize the diverse variables identified by Coman. One gains a general lesson from this analysis that changing the formal governance structure of irrigation is not sufficient to ensure efficient investment in facilities or that farmers are able to acquire property and make a reasonable living. Building knowledge and trust are, however, essential for solving collective-action problems. (JEL B31, N51, Q15, Q25)

Suggested Citation

  • Elinor Ostrom, 2011. "Reflections on "Some Unsettled Problems of Irrigation"," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(1), pages 49-63, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:101:y:2011:i:1:p:49-63
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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.101.1.49
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Isaac, R Mark & Walker, James M, 1988. "Communication and Free-Riding Behavior: The Voluntary Contribution Mechanism," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(4), pages 585-608, October.
    2. Frey, Bruno S, 1997. "A Constitution for Knaves Crowds Out Civic Virtues," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(443), pages 1043-1053, July.
    3. Elinor Ostrom, 2010. "Beyond Markets and States: Polycentric Governance of Complex Economic Systems," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(3), pages 641-672, June.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Torgler, Benno & Piatti, Marco, 2011. "A Century of American Economic Review," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt6h59v4m6, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
    2. Skurray, James H., 2015. "The scope for collective action in a large groundwater basin: An institutional analysis of aquifer governance in Western Australia," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 128-140.
    3. Robert N. Stavins, 2011. "The Problem of the Commons: Still Unsettled after 100 Years," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(1), pages 81-108, February.
    4. Andrey Zaikin & Ana Espinola-Arredondo, 2012. "The Carrot or the Stick: Water Allocation Strategies for Uzbekistan," Working Papers 2012-2, School of Economic Sciences, Washington State University.
    5. Sawada, Yasuyuki, 2015. "The Impacts of Infrastructure in Development: A Selective Survey," ADBI Working Papers 511, Asian Development Bank Institute.
    6. Marianne Lefebvre, 2011. "Sharing Rules for Common-Pool Resources when Self-insurance is Available: an Experiment," Working Papers 11-22, LAMETA, Universtiy of Montpellier, revised Jun 2012.
    7. Skurray, James H., 2013. "The scope for collective action in a large groundwater basin: an institutional analysis of aquifer governance in Western Australia," Working Papers 161075, University of Western Australia, School of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
    8. Aoyagi, Keitaro & Sawada, Yasuyuki & Shoji, Masahiro, 2014. "Does Infrastructure Facilitate Social Capital Accumulation? Evidence from Natural and Artefactual Field Experiments in a Developing Country," Working Papers 65, JICA Research Institute.
    9. Richard Hornbeck & Pinar Keskin, 2011. "The Evolving Impact of the Ogallala Aquifer: Agricultural Adaptation to Groundwater and Climate," NBER Working Papers 17625, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Hanemann, Michael, 2014. "Property rights and sustainable irrigation—A developed world perspective," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 145(C), pages 5-22.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • B31 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought: Individuals - - - Individuals
    • N51 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • Q15 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Land Ownership and Tenure; Land Reform; Land Use; Irrigation; Agriculture and Environment
    • Q25 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Water

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