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Traditional property rights, common property, and mobility in semi-arid African pastoralist systems

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Traditional pastoralist land management institutions in sub-Saharan Africa have been stressed by an increasing human population and related forces, including private enclosure of grazing land; government-sponsored privatization; and the increasing prevalence of violent conflicts and livestock theft. We model the incompleteness and flexibility of traditional grazing rights using fuzzy set theory. We compare individual and social welfare under the traditional system to individual and social welfare under a private property system and a common property system. Whether the traditional system is preferred to private property depends on whether the value of mobility, as defined by the traditional system, is more valuable than the right of exclusion inherent in private property. We find that under some conditions the imprecision which characterizes traditional rights can result in higher social returns than a common property regime characterized by complete symmetric rights across all members of the user group and complete exclusion of non-members.

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Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal Environment and Development Economics.

Volume (Year): 14 (2009)
Issue (Month): 01 (February)
Pages: 29-50

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Handle: RePEc:cup:endeec:v:14:y:2009:i:01:p:29-50_00
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