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Resource degradation in the African commons: accounting for institutional decay




The development literature has devoted considerable attention to the commons and has ignored the wider economic context of the commons. I develop a model of two kinds of agents (naïve and sophisticated) using two kinds of assets (safe and unsafe) to illustrate the possibility of resource degradation in the commons in the absence of free riding, shirking, and general theft among members of the village and its associated commons. This model makes it possible to understand that degradation of the commons arises from factors outside of the commons rather than arising from ‘perverse’ property rights and selfish behavior within the commons. This approach suggests a needed reformulation of development assistance away from prescriptions for the commons. Instead, development assistance must be refocused on the more serious challenge of institutional incoherence in the larger economy of which the village and its commons are but a part.

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  • Bromley, Daniel W., 2008. "Resource degradation in the African commons: accounting for institutional decay," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(05), pages 539-563, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:endeec:v:13:y:2008:i:05:p:539-563_00

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    1. Vallino, Elena & Aldahsev,Gani, 2013. "NGOs and participatory conservation in developing countries: why are there inefficiencies?," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 201318, University of Turin.
    2. Vallino, Elena, 2013. "The tragedy of the park: an agent-based model on endogenous and exogenous institutions for the management of a forest," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 201316, University of Turin.
    3. Michael Kopsidis, 2012. "Peasant Agriculture and Economic Growth: The Case of Southeast Europe c. 1870-1940 reinterpreted," Working Papers 0028, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).

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