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

  • Robert A. Blewett

    (St. Lawrence University)

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    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.

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    File URL: http://college.holycross.edu/RePEc/eej/Archive/Volume21/V21N4P477_490.pdf
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    Article provided by Eastern Economic Association in its journal Eastern Economic Journal.

    Volume (Year): 21 (1995)
    Issue (Month): 4 (Fall)
    Pages: 477-490

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    Handle: RePEc:eej:eeconj:v:21:y:1995:i:4:p:477-490
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