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Imachi Nkwu: Trade and the commons

Fenske, James (2013): Imachi Nkwu: Trade and the commons.

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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 use the Ostrom (2007, 2009) framework for analyzing social-ecological systems to guide the construction of a model of this transition. An increase in the resource price leads the owner to prefer communal harvesting, which simplifies monitoring against theft. I support this framework with evidence from colonial court records.

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