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Economic development and Indigenous Australia: contestations over property, institutions and ideology


  • Altman, Jon C.


Economic development for remote Indigenous communities cannot be understood unless the relative importance of customary activity, potentially enhanced by native title legal rights in resources, is recognised. The present article uses a three‐sector hybrid economy framework, rather than the usual two‐sector private (or market) and public (or state) model to more accurately depict the Indigenous economy. Examples are provided of the actual and potential significance of the customary sector of the hybrid economy. Focusing on the concepts of property and institutions, it is demonstrated that significant local, regional, and national benefits are generated by the Indigenous hybrid economy. A role is foreshadowed for resource economists and the New Institutional Economics in quantifying these benefits, including positive externalities, so that they might be more actively supported by the state.

Suggested Citation

  • Altman, Jon C., 2004. "Economic development and Indigenous Australia: contestations over property, institutions and ideology," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 48(3), September.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:aareaj:117981

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sen, Amartya, 2001. "Development as Freedom," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780192893307.
    2. Gregory, R G & Daly, A E, 1997. "Welfare and Economic Progress of Indigenous Men of Australia and the US 1980-1990," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 73(221), pages 101-119, June.
    3. Quiggin, John C., 2001. "Environmental economics and the Murray-Darling river system," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 45(1), March.
    4. Jon Altman & Boyd Hunter, 2003. "Evaluating Indigenous Socioeconomic Outcomes In The Reconciliation Decade, 1991–2001," Economic Papers, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 22(4), pages 1-15, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Clem Tisdell & Hemanath Swarna Nantha, 2008. "Public attitudes to the use of wildlife by Aboriginal Australians: marketing of wildlife and its conservation," International Journal of Green Economics, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 2(1), pages 108-122.
    2. Venn, Tyron J. & Quiggin, John, 2007. "Accommodating indigenous cultural heritage values in resource assessment: Cape York Peninsula and the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2-3), pages 334-344, March.
    3. Tisdell, Clement A., 2005. "Resource Entitlements of Indigenous Minorities, Their Poverty and Conservation of Nature: Status of Australian Aborigines, Comparisons with India's Tribals, Theory and Changing Policies Globally," Economics, Ecology and Environment Working Papers 55061, University of Queensland, School of Economics.
    4. Venn, Tyron, 2005. "Commercial Forestry: An Economic Development Opportunity Consistent with the Property Rights of the Wik People to Natural Resources," Risk and Sustainable Management Group Working Papers 149845, University of Queensland, School of Economics.
    5. Vining, Aidan R. & Richards, John, 2016. "Indigenous economic development in Canada: Confronting principal-agent and principal–principal problems to reduce resource rent dissipation," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 358-367.
    6. Clement A. Tisdell, 2014. "Human Values and Biodiversity Conservation," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 15295.
    7. Venn, Tyron J., 2007. "Economic implications of inalienable and communal native title: The case of Wik forestry in Australia," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 131-142, October.
    8. repec:eee:enepol:v:108:y:2017:i:c:p:102-110 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Kerstin Zander & Lisa Petheram & Stephen Garnett, 2013. "Stay or leave? Potential climate change adaptation strategies among Aboriginal people in coastal communities in northern Australia," Natural Hazards: Journal of the International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, Springer;International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, vol. 67(2), pages 591-609, June.


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