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Transitional Forces in a Resource Based Economy: Phases of Economic and Institutional Development in Hawaii

Listed author(s):
  • Brooks A. Kaiser
  • James A. Roumasset

We illuminate several important aspects of the nature and causes of growth and institutional change. To do this, we focus on the role resource pressures have played in the historic development of Hawaii’s institutions. We discuss the Hawaiian story in the context of the natural co-evolution of production systems, organizational forms and authority structures in a resource dependent economy. We model the resource dependency as a multi-trophic ecologically based system. Productivity is a dynamic function of the available resource, human populations of laborers and wealth (capital) accumulation that funds management and governance through a non-productive elite class. We use both archeological and historical evidence from natural resource use during the settlement and modernization of the Hawaiian economy. Hawaii’s resources are first controlled by hierarchy, which intensifies over time. Decentralization occurs after Western contact (1778), though not immediately. Unlike many existing analyses of primitive economic development, there does not exist a monotonic relationship between population and resource pressure. In a model of second-best resource management, optimal governance changes as the balance between sustenance and other resource uses shifts.

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Article provided by Università di Perugia in its journal Review of Economics and Institutions.

Volume (Year): 5 (2014)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages:

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Handle: RePEc:pia:review:v:5:y:2014:i:2:n:2
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  1. Jensen, Michael C. & Meckling, William H., 1976. "Theory of the firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs and ownership structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 305-360, October.
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  4. Libecap, Gary D., 1978. "Economic Variables and the Development of the Law: The Case of Western Mineral Rights," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 38(02), pages 338-362, June.
  5. Libecap, Gary D & Wiggins, Steven N, 1985. "The Influence of Private Contractual Failure on Regulation: The Case of Oil Field Unitization," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(4), pages 690-714, August.
  6. Clark, Colin W. & Munro, Gordon R., 1975. "The economics of fishing and modern capital theory: A simplified approach," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 92-106, December.
  7. Anderson, Terry L & Hill, Peter J, 1990. "The Race for Property Rights," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(1), pages 177-197, April.
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