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India’s Disappearing Common Lands: Fuzzy Boundaries, Encroachment, and Evolving Property Rights

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  • Elizabeth J.Z. Robinson

Abstract

Opportunistic land encroachment occurs in many low-income countries, gradually yet pervasively, until discrete areas of common land disappear. This paper, motivated by field observations in Karnataka, India, demonstrates that such an evolution of property rights from common to private may be efficient when the boundaries between common and private land are poorly defined, or "fuzzy." Using a multi-period optimization model, and introducing the concept of stock and flow enforcement, I show how effectiveness of enforcement effort, whether encroachment is reversible, and punitive fines, influence whether an area of common land is fully defined and protected or gradually or rapidly encroached.

Suggested Citation

  • Elizabeth J.Z. Robinson, 2008. "India’s Disappearing Common Lands: Fuzzy Boundaries, Encroachment, and Evolving Property Rights," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 84(3), pages 409-422.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:landec:v:84:y:2008:i:3:p:409-422
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Matthew J. Baker, 2003. "An Equilibrium Conflict Model of Land Tenure in Hunter-Gatherer Societies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(1), pages 124-173, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Albers, H.J., 2010. "Spatial modeling of extraction and enforcement in developing country protected areas," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 165-179, April.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C61 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Optimization Techniques; Programming Models; Dynamic Analysis
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • Q24 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Land

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