Social Identity and Manipulative Interhousehold Transfers Among East African Pastoralists
Cornell University Dept. of Applied Economics & Management Working Paper
45 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2002
Date Written: July 2004
We model interhousehold transfers between nomadic livestock herders as the state-dependent consequence of individuals' strategic interdependence resulting from the existence of multiple, opposing externalities. A public good security externality among individuals sharing a social (e.g., ethnic) identity in a potentially hostile environment creates incentives to band together. Self-interested interhousehold wealth transfers from wealthier herders to poorer ones may emerge endogenously within a limited wealth space as a means to motivate accompanying migration by the recipient. The distributional reach and size of the transfer are limited, however, by a resource appropriation externality related to the use of common property grazing lands. When this effect dominates, it can induce distributionally regressive transfers from ex ante poor households who want to relieve grazing pressures caused by larger herds. As compared to the extant literature on transfers, our model appears more consistent with the limited available empirical evidence on heterogeneous and changing transfers' patterns among east African pastoralists.
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