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Managing resources that are common property: From Kathmandu to Capitol Hill

  • Political Science


Nepal's forests are common property; and because they are common property, they are abused. In this respect, they are like the many common resources around the world, including the public fisheries and grazing lands of the United States. All share similar problems that point to similar solutions. Increasing human populations are likely to increase the seriousness of the problems associated with the use of common property, especially for those types of common property that are geographically fixed. Underinvestment is probably a bigger problem than overconsumption for such stationary resources. Even when people do not overconsume a commonly owned resource, they often consume the wrong mix of products from such a resource. If political constraints prevent a government from shifting to a less destructive basis of ownership, mimicking the incentives that would exist if the common property were under the control of a single manager may help solve common-property problems.

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