Conflict and Renewable Resources
The economic literature on conflict employs a static game theoretic frame- work developed by Jack Hirshleifer. We extend this literature by explicitly introducing conflict dynamics into the model. Our specific application is based on two stylized facts. First, conflict often arises over scarce renew- able resources, and second those resources often lack well-defined and/or enforceable property rights. Our stylized model features two rival groups, each dependent on a single contested renewable resource. Each period, the groups allocate their members between resource harvesting and resource appropriation (or conflict) in order to maximize their income. This leads to a complex non-linear dynamic interaction between conflict, the two populations, and the resource. The system's steady states are identified and comparative statics are computed. As developed, the model relates most closely to conflict over renewable resources in primitive societies. The system's global dynamics are investigated in simulations calibrated for the historical society of Easter Island. The model's implications for contemporary lesser developed societies are examined.
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