IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Reinkjøtt: Natur, Politikk, Makt og Marked
[Reindeer Meat: Nature, Politics, Power, and Markets]


  • Reinert, Erik S.


This lengthy report is the result of a research project originally started by attempting to explain why the Saami reindeer herders in Norway - the last aboriginal tribe in Western Europe - in spite of having a monopoly on the production of reindeer meat, traditionally a luxury food item in Norway, suffered increasing economic hardship. From being an extremely profitable activity until the mid-1970, twenty years later most herder families were losing money. The answer to the question lies in the interplay between the factors listed in the title; nature, politics, power, and markets. Reindeer herding was submitted to a political regime originally established for stable barn production, with a system of "target prices" annually negotiated with the government. However, the target prices were not adjusted to the natural cycles of Nature's carrying capacity. The number of reindeer in Northern Scandinavia increases cyclically by 70 to 80 per cent from bottom to peak. By attempting to keep the same price and the same level of production - ignoring Nature's cyclical production of reindeer meat - the Ministry of Agriculture created other cycles: on the one hand overproduction when prices were not allowed to fall as production increased, and - on the other hand - economic misery when prices were not allowed to rise when the volume of production shrank dramatically. In an attempt to solve the crisis - but without understanding its causes - the Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture left the marketing of reindeer meat to the national meat monoply of the farmers (Norsk Kjøtt), who were in effect the main competitors to the reindeer herders as suppliers of meat in Norway. In conclusion: left to themselves as capitalist entrepreneurs in the market - until the mid-1970s - the Saami reindeer herders had been doing very well. The problems started when the political elements - represented by the Ministry of Agriculture - forced reindeer herding in Norway into a regime set up for stable barn production, and set up a colonial-type system where the reindeer owners lost economic control over the two most profitable elements in the value chain - slaughtering and marketing - to non-Saami economic actors.

Suggested Citation

  • Reinert, Erik S., 2002. "Reinkjøtt: Natur, Politikk, Makt og Marked
    [Reindeer Meat: Nature, Politics, Power, and Markets]
    ," MPRA Paper 48152, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:48152

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: original version
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Reinert, Erik S., 1997. "Det tekno-økonomiske paradigmeskiftet. Konsekvenser for norske distrikts- og ressurbaserte næringer
      [The Techno-Economic Paradigm Shift: Consequences for Norwegian regional and resource-based indus
      ," MPRA Paper 48150, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Reinert, Erik S., 2006. "The Economics of Reindeer Herding: Saami Entrepreneurship between Cyclical Sustainability and the Powers of State and Oligopolies," MPRA Paper 49798, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    Culture (sociology); Government policy; Meat; Entrepreneurialism; Norway;

    JEL classification:

    • N00 - Economic History - - General - - - General


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:48152. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Joachim Winter) or (Rebekah McClure). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.