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Property Rights as a Cause of the Tragedy of the Commons: Institutional Change and the Pastoral Maasai of Kenya

Author

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  • Robert A. Blewett

    (St. Lawrence University)

Abstract

The pastoral commons of the Maasai offers a case in which common ownership proved superior to private property and where the creation of property rights was a cause of the tragedy of the commons. Property rights diminished sustainable use of the commons by disrupting the complex institutional structure of the Maasai used to control access to the commons and to provide insurance against environmental uncertainties. Analogous to a Coasian firm, Maasai institutions reduced the transactions costs of cooperation and coordination relative to market exchanges. This article explores pre-colonial institutions and the impact of colonial and post-colonial policies on the pastoral economy.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert A. Blewett, 1995. "Property Rights as a Cause of the Tragedy of the Commons: Institutional Change and the Pastoral Maasai of Kenya," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 21(4), pages 477-490, Fall.
  • Handle: RePEc:eej:eeconj:v:21:y:1995:i:4:p:477-490
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    File URL: http://web.holycross.edu/RePEc/eej/Archive/Volume21/V21N4P477_490.pdf
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Leonid Krasnozhon, 2011. "Property rights and farm efficiency: evidence from Ukraine," Economic Change and Restructuring, Springer, vol. 44(4), pages 279-295, November.
    2. Mwangi, Esther, 2005. "The transformation of property rights in Kenya's Maasiland: triggers and motivations," CAPRi working papers 35, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Commons; Property Rights; Property; Transactions;

    JEL classification:

    • Q21 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Demand and Supply; Prices
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights

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