The management of common-pool resources theoretical essays and empirical evidence
Sammanfattning: A large part of the poor people in the world is dependent on local natural resources for their survival. Often, these resources are managed as common-pool resources; that is, they are used in common by a limited group of people, who are dependent on each other in their use of the resource.The first two essays in this dissertation explicitly examine the effects of poverty on common-pool resource management. I show that if utility is a non-homogeneous function of consumption, both income level and income distribution affects the chances for cooperative management of common-pool resources. In the first essay, I let the S-shaped relationship between health and consumption be reflected in an S-shaped utility function, and use game theory to examine the effects on cooperation. I find that the chances for cooperation are greater if the users of the common-pool resource are relatively well off than if they are very poor, but greatest of all in groups of users just managing to get the food they need to remain in good health. In the most relevant consumption levels, a temporary decrease in consumption may cause cooperation to fail. In the second essay, I show that income inequality decreases the scope for cooperation. In poor groups of users, the poorest will be the ones unable to cooperate, while in richer groups of users, the richest will be the ones who can not commit to cooperate. Alms-giving, an unequal sharing of the gains from cooperation and even a certain amount of free-riding are ways of making cooperation possible despite inequality.In the third essay data from ten, and case studies of five, irrigation systems in Nepal are analysed. The results show a positive correlation between income level and cooperation and a negative correlation between income inequality and cooperation, which supports the results from the first two essays. However, while the theoretical essays focus on the incentives to cooperate, the empirical analysis shows that it is at least as important that the users find a way to coordinate their efforts. The case studies, in particular, emphasise the importance of having a person as a leader. Furthermore, cooperation works better when a large share of the users belongs to the same ethnic group.
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