Ostrom Meets the Pandemic: Lessons from Asian Rice Farming Traditions

68 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2022

See all articles by Jaerim Choi

Jaerim Choi

University of Hawaii at Manoa - Department of Economics

Sunghun Lim

Louisiana State University, Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness

Date Written: October 4, 2022

Abstract

A robust public health system during a pandemic is a common good. We argue that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is a tragedy of the commons. During the early phases of the pandemic, Asia outperformed the US and Europe in managing it. The traditions and practices of rice farming in Asian countries are key to understanding the regional differences. Farming rice, unlike wheat, requires finding cooperative solutions to common goods problems such as irrigation. The history of rice cultivation in Asia implies that those societies have long had institutions that deal well with the commons through credible commitment, mutual monitoring, and sanctions. The descendants of Asian rice farmers commit themselves to a set of rules and are vigilant in monitoring their neighbors in common goods situations because they fear social rejection if they do not. Exploiting Asian immigration history in the US and the pandemic as a natural experiment, and using a patient-level CDC dataset, we show that Asian rice farming descendants are less likely to contract and/or die from the coronavirus even in the US. Then, using a Facebook survey, Google mobility data, and the US Census household pulse survey, we find that they were better able to resolve commons problems associated with the pandemic by getting vaccinated, wearing masks, and practicing social distancing.

Note:
Funding Information: None

Conflict of Interests: None


Keywords: Asian Immigration, CDC, Common Goods, Culture, Elinor Ostrom, Institutions, Mask Wearing, Pandemic, Rice Farming, Social Distancing, Social Rejection

JEL Classification: D70, N32, Q10, Z13

Suggested Citation

Choi, Jaerim and Lim, Sunghun, Ostrom Meets the Pandemic: Lessons from Asian Rice Farming Traditions (October 4, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4238146 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4238146

Jaerim Choi (Contact Author)

University of Hawaii at Manoa - Department of Economics ( email )

Honolulu, HI
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.jaerimchoi.com/

Sunghun Lim

Louisiana State University, Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness ( email )

273 Martin D. Woodin Hall Louisiana State Universi
Baton Rouge, LA 70803
United States
225-578-2766 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/view/limsunghun

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