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African elephants: the effect of property rights and political stability


  • MA. McPherson
  • ML. Nieswiadomy


African elephant populations have declined by more than 50% over the past 20 years. International outrage over the slaughter led to a worldwide ban on ivory sales beginning in 1989, despite the objections of many economists and scientists, and of several southern African countries that have established systems of property rights over elephants. Far from declining, elephant populations in many of these countries have increased to levels at or above the carrying capacity of the ecosystem. This article estimates the determinants of changes in elephant populations in 35 African countries over several time periods. The authors find that, controlling for other factors, countries with property rights systems of community wildlife programs have more rapid elephant population growth rates than do those countries that do not. Political instability and the absence of representative governments significantly lower elephant growth rates.

Suggested Citation

  • MA. McPherson & ML. Nieswiadomy, 2000. "African elephants: the effect of property rights and political stability," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 18(1), pages 14-26, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:coecpo:v:18:y:2000:i:1:p:14-26
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1465-7287.2000.tb00002.x

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Robert T. Deacon, 1994. "Deforestation and the Rule of Law in a Cross-Section of Countries," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 70(4), pages 414-430.
    2. Griffin, James M, 1985. "OPEC Behavior: A Test of Alternative Hypotheses," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(5), pages 954-963, December.
    3. Clark, Colin W, 1973. "Profit Maximization and the Extinction of Animal Species," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 950-961, July-Aug..
    4. Khanna, Jyoti & Harford, Jon, 1996. "The ivory trade ban: Is it effective?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 147-155, November.
    5. Barnes, J. I., 1996. "Changes in the economic use value of elephant in Botswana: the effect of international trade prohibition," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 215-230, September.
    6. H. Scott Gordon, 1954. "The Economic Theory of a Common-Property Resource: The Fishery," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 62, pages 124-124.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mark Sellenthin & Göran Skogh, 2004. "Property Rights in Endangered Species: The Wolverine Case," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 18(2), pages 239-247, September.

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