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Imachi Nkwu: Trade and the commons

Fenske, James (2012): Imachi Nkwu: Trade and the commons.

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Abstract

The conventional view is that an increase in the value of a natural resource will lead private property to emerge. Many Igbo groups in Nigeria, however, curtailed private rights over palm trees in response to the palm produce trade of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I present a simple game between a property owner and a potential thief in which an increase in the price of a natural resource makes it possible to introduce regulated communal tenure. This makes the property owner better off, leaving the thief as well off as under private property. I use this model along with colonial court records to explain the political economy of property disputes in interwar Igboland.

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