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Common-Pool Resources

Paper Session

Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019 10:15 AM - 12:15 PM

Atlanta Marriott Marquis, M103
Hosted By: Association of Environmental and Resource Economists
  • Chair: Brooks Kaiser, Syddansk University

Do Common-Pool Resources Help Insure Household Food Security from Climate Shocks?

Kathy Baylis
University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign
Ashwini Chhatre
Indian School of Business


Common-pool resources (CPRs) play an important role in rural lives of many developing
countries. CPRs are a source of both income and vital consumables including food, water, fuel,
fodder, and medicine. CPRs may also work as a buffer against income and weather shocks
(Wunder et al., 2014). Little quantitative work explores the effect of CPRs on household food
security. In this paper, we ask whether and how access to CPRs affect household food security?
Further, we ask whether they help households smooth food security in the face of climate shocks.
We use primary household-level data on 1000 households from the state of Bihar in India
and 500 households from Zambia. In both regions, we have three years of data from shortly after
harvest and from the lean season between harvests. Both regions experienced climate shocks
and pest outbreaks during this time, which allows us to estimate whether CPRs help households
stabilize their food consumption when their food production and income is negatively affected.
We design a detailed food-specific module to collect data on household’s food
consumption and food source and detailed questions about access to forest, open space, and
waterbodies. We estimate the impact of the access to CPR interacted with the exogenous climate
shock variable on different measurements of food security. We also measure the change in
dietary diversity over three years as a function of access to CPRs and explore the implications of
seasonal variations. Further, we move to the mechanisms that explain the heterogeneity in
dependence on CPRs. Our preliminary empirical results suggest that access to CPR significantly
improves the welfare of households. This result is particularly true for the lean season when
households depend on CPR to smooth their consumption.

Refugees and Environmental Degradation in Africa

Valerie Ann Mueller
Arizona State University
Jean-Francois Maystadt
Lancaster University
Stijn van Weezel
University College Dublin


Refugees are often accused of leaving a severe ecological footprint
in receiving areas. Agricultural or forested land can be cleared for the
purpose of establishing camps or new farms for the immigrants. Forest
resources may further be extracted to provide fuel for cooking and
heating, or materials to construct homes. The qualitative literature
suggests that these negative repercussions are an exception rather than
the rule and the ramifications of resource extraction may be short-lived.
The aim of this study is to empirically examine the short- and long-run
environmental implications of refugees in Africa, and the mechanisms
underlying these potential effects. We combine refugee data of high
temporal (2000-2016) and spatial (185 provinces of 43 African countries)
resolution with gridded data on environmental degradation, the
Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI). Our identification strategy relies
on the use of an instrumental variables approach to account for the
selection of refugees into poorly degraded areas, conditioning on both
pixel and year fixed effects. Inferences are based on Conley standard
errors to account for spatial autocorrelation. Sensitivity analysis is
performed by re-defining our unit of observations at higher levels of
aggregation in both the regression specifications and standard error
calculations. OLS results suggest a positive correlation between refugee
inflows and land degradation. However, this correlation is entirely
driven by the endogenous location of refugee camps in areas with low
vegetation. The IV approach, in contrast, demonstrates that refugees
do not pose an environmental burden in the short run. We are now exploring whether there are long run effects of refugees on the environment,
and whether effects may differ by heterogeneous characteristics
in the receiving areas, such as population density, linguistic proximity
to refugees, or similarities in property rights institutions.

Credit Market Development and Resource Extraction: Evidence from Global Fisheries

Frederik Noack
University of British Columbia
Christopher Costello
University of California-Santa Barbara


The rapid expansion of credit markets has improved the economic opportunities of the
rural poor but may have also contributed to the decline of global common pool resources.
This article evaluates the impact of credit market development on resource extraction using a
dynamic model with property rights uncertainty over resources and new data on catches, stock
sizes and property rights security of 8,600 fisheries. The theory predicts that credit market
development reduces harvesting costs and induces more resource extraction if property rights
are insecure. In contrast, if property rights are secure the effect of credit market development
on discount rates can lead to more conservative resource extraction. The empirical findings that
credit market development increases fishing effort under insecure property rights but weakly
reduces fishing effort under secure property rights support the theoretical predictions. The
results suggest that strengthening property rights over resources could reverse the negative
impact of financial development on resource conservation.

Property Rights and Resource Extraction: Evidence from Deforestation in the Amazon

Dimitri Szerman
PUC-Rio and CPI
Juliano Assuncao
Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro
Marco Gonzalez-Navarro
University of California-Berkeley


One common feature of the tropics is ill-defined and weakly enforced property rights.
A strong body of evidence now shows that weak land tenure rights decrease investment
and agricultural productivity, and generates civil conflict. Less studied however is the relationship
between weak property rights and environmental outcomes. This study seeks to
empirically answer the following question: does deforestation change when de jure property
rights are assigned to private parties? To answer that question, we analyze the impacts
of a large-scale land titling program on deforestation in the Amazon. The program provides
formal land titles to occupiers of parcels on federal public land. We use geo-referenced
data on the parcels, and track deforestation inside the parcels using remote sensing data.
Our empirical strategy controls for parcel-specific fixed effects to account for unobserved
heterogeneity of parcels and their owners. We find that titling parcels reduces deforestation
considerably. Our fixed-effects estimates show that titling prevents the loss of 2-3 hectares of
forest, or 9.2%-11.2% of the typical parcel’s forest cover before the program starts. However,
the effect is not homogeneous for all parcels. In particular, effects are smaller in parcels with
higher initial forest cover, and parcels where cattle grazing constitutes the main economic
activity. For large parcels, we find evidence that titling may even accelerate deforestation.
Evidence on leakage is mixed.
Brooks Kaiser
Syddansk University
Martin Quaas
University of Kiel
Bryan Leonard
Arizona State University
Kathy Baylis
University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign
JEL Classifications
  • Q5 - Environmental Economics
  • Q2 - Renewable Resources and Conservation