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Rational Fools and Cooperation in a Poor Hydraulic Economy


  • Pranab Bardhan.


Local community-level water management is crucial for rural development in the poorest parts of the world, in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Local cooperative institutions have been successful in water management in some cases, but there are numerous cases of failure. The paper draws upon the relevant lessons from the theoretical literature on cooperation in game theory, both in economics and evolutionary biology. Then it goes into the evidence from field studies by anthropologists and others on the conditions for success or failure of local cooperation. This points to some additional insights which the theoretical models are yet too constricted to incorporate.
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Suggested Citation

  • Pranab Bardhan., 1993. "Rational Fools and Cooperation in a Poor Hydraulic Economy," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C93-015, University of California at Berkeley.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucb:calbcd:c93-015

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bayoumi, Tamim & Eichengreen, Barry, 1994. "Macroeconomic Adjustment under Bretton Woods and the Post-Bretton-Woods Float: An Impulse-Response Analysis," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(425), pages 813-827, July.
    2. repec:cup:apsrev:v:80:y:1986:i:04:p:1095-1111_18 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Fudenberg, Drew & Maskin, Eric, 1986. "The Folk Theorem in Repeated Games with Discounting or with Incomplete Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 533-554, May.
    4. Jeff Frankel, Steve Phillips, and Menzie Chinn., 1992. "Financial and Currency Integration in the European Monetary System: The Statistical Record," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C92-005, University of California at Berkeley.
    5. Elster, Jon, 1989. "Social Norms and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 99-117, Fall.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jeff Dayton-Johnson & Pranab Bardhan, 2002. "Inequality And Conservation On The Local Commons: A Theoretical Exercise," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(481), pages 577-602, July.
    2. Das Gupta, Monica & Grandvoinnet, Helene & Romani, Mattia, 2000. "State-community synergies in development : laying the basis for collective action," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2439, The World Bank.
    3. Aggarwal, Rimjhim & Narayan, Tulika A., 2000. "Does Inequality Lead To Greater Efficiency In The Use Of Local Commons? The Role Of Strategic Investments In Capacity," Working Papers 28572, University of Maryland, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
    4. Aggarwal, Rimjhim M., 2000. "Possibilities and Limitations to Cooperation in Small Groups: The Case of Group-Owned Wells in Southern India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 28(8), pages 1481-1497, August.
    5. Tarui, Nori, 2004. "Common-Property Resource Use And Outside Options: Cooperation Across Generations In A Dynamic Game," 2004 Annual meeting, August 1-4, Denver, CO 20029, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • H40 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - General
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development


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