Imachi Nkwu: How Commercialization of Natural Resources Can Create Common Property
James E. Fenske
University of Oxford - Department of Economics
March 12, 2009
Conventional wisdom suggests that as the value of a natural resource rises, private property will emerge. The Ngwa and other Igbo groups of Nigeria, however, curtailed private rights over palm trees in response to the palm produce trade of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This paper presents a game between a youth and an elder in which an increase in the price of palm oil makes it possible to introduce regulated communal tenure. This makes both parties better off than under private property. This model is used with colonial court records to interpret the political economy of property disputes during the interwar period.
Keywords: Property rights, natural resources, common property
JEL Classification: K11, N57, O13working papers series
Date posted: March 13, 2009 ; Last revised: January 7, 2012
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