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Individualism and governance of the commons

Author

Listed:
  • Meina Cai

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Ilia Murtazashvili

    (University of Pittsburgh)

  • Jennifer Murtazashvili

    (University of Pittsburgh)

  • Raufhon Salahodjaev

    (ERGO
    Westminster International University in Tashkent)

Abstract

Individualistic cultures are associated with economic growth and development. Do they also improve governance of the commons? According to the property rights literature, conservation is more likely when the institutions of property arise from a spontaneous process in response to local problems. We argue that individualistic cultures contribute to conservation by encouraging property rights entrepreneurship: efforts by individuals and communities to resolve commons dilemmas, including their investment of resources in securing political recognition of spontaneously arising property rights. We use the theory to explain cross-country rates of change in forest cover. Using both subjective measures of individualistic values and the historical prevalence of disease as instruments for individualism, we find that individualistic societies have higher reforestation rates than collectivist ones, consistent with our theory.

Suggested Citation

  • Meina Cai & Ilia Murtazashvili & Jennifer Murtazashvili & Raufhon Salahodjaev, 2020. "Individualism and governance of the commons," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 184(1), pages 175-195, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:184:y:2020:i:1:d:10.1007_s11127-019-00722-3
    DOI: 10.1007/s11127-019-00722-3
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Individualism; Collectivism; Private property rights; Tragedy of the commons; Self-governance; Deforestation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • B52 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary; Modern Monetary Theory;
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • O5 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation

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