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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 can lead to private property over it. 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 resource owner and a thief. An increase in the resource price leads the owner to prefer a communal harvesting arrangement that simplifies monitoring, leaving the thief no worse off. I use this model along with colonial court records to explain property disputes in interwar Igboland.

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