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The Effect of Subsistence on Collapse and Institutional Adaptation in Population-resource Societies

  • John C. V. Pezzey


    (Australian National University, Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies
    University of Bath, Department of Economics)

  • John M. Anderies


    (Commonwealth Scientific and Industry Research Organisation, Sustainable Ecosystems)

We extend the Brander-Taylor model of population and resource development in an isolated society by adding a resource subsistence requirement to people's preferences. This improves plausibility; amplifies population overshoot and collapse, and makes the steady state less stable; and allows for complete cessation of non-harvesting activities, in line with archaeological evidence for many societies. We then use bifurcation techniques to give a global analysis of four types of institutional adaptation: an ad valorem resource tax, and quotas on total resource harvest, total harvest effort and per capita effort. In all cases we find that a higher subsistence requirement makes it harder, or often impossible, for adaptation to avoid overshoot and collapse.

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Paper provided by Australian National University, Economics and Environment Network in its series Economics and Environment Network Working Papers with number 0201.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:anu:eenwps:0201
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  1. Brander, James A & Taylor, M Scott, 1998. "The Simple Economics of Easter Island: A Ricardo-Malthus Model of Renewable Resource Use," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 119-38, March.
  2. Steger, Thomas M., 2000. "Economic growth with subsistence consumption," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 343-361, August.
  3. Koopmans, Tjalling C., 1975. "Concepts of Optimality and Their Uses," Nobel Prize in Economics documents 1975-2, Nobel Prize Committee.
  4. Elinor Ostrom, 2000. "Collective Action and the Evolution of Social Norms," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 137-158, Summer.
  5. Jon D. Erickson & John M. Gowdy, 2000. "Resource Use, Institutions, and Sustainability: A Tale of Two Pacific Island Cultures," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 76(3), pages 345-354.
  6. R. Morris Coats & Thomas R. Dalton, 2000. "Could institutional reform have saved Easter Island?," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 10(5), pages 489-505.
  7. Reuveny, Rafael & Decker, Christopher S., 2000. "Easter Island: historical anecdote or warning for the future?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 271-287, November.
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