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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Tragedy of the Commons, Livestock Cycles and Sustainability
Author:Fafchamps, MarcelISNI
Periodical:Journal of African Economies
Geographic terms:Subsaharan Africa
Subjects:agricultural ecology
animal husbandry
Economics and Trade
Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment
Drought and Desertification
External link:https://jae.oxfordjournals.org/content/7/3/384.full.pdf
Abstract:Livestock play an important role in the livelihood of many rural dwellers in semiarid areas in Africa. Drought-driven livestock cycles, possibly magnified by externalities, represent a wasteful and often life-threatening process. This paper investigates the theoretical relationship between these livestock cycles and externalities. It shows that, when production shocks are present and producers fail to fully internalize the effect of their pasture use on other producers, overgrazing results in wide fluctuations of the livestock population. It also notes that overgrazing does not result from producers' impatience - quite the contrary. Because impatient producers are less willing to invest in livestock, they would use pasture resources less intensively. The existence of nonmarketed output and sources of 'on-the-job' satisfaction are shown to contribute to the overaccumulation of livestock and, hence, to livestock cycles. Two forces fuel such cycles: producers' concerns with consumption smoothing; and expected capital gains when demand for livestock products is inelastic. Implications regarding African livestock production are discussed. App., bibliogr., notes, ref. sum.