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Resource Use, Institutions, and Sustainability: A Tale of Two Pacific Island Cultures

Jon D. Erickson and John M. Gowdy
Land Economics
Vol. 76, No. 3 (Aug., 2000), pp. 345-354
DOI: 10.2307/3147033
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3147033
Page Count: 10
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Resource Use, Institutions, and Sustainability: A Tale of Two Pacific Island Cultures
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Abstract

This paper examines two Pacific Island cultures, Easter Island and Tikopia, and the relationship between natural resource systems, human-made capital, population growth, and institutional change. Easter Island followed a pre-industrial society pattern of overshoot-and-collapse. However, Tikopia evolved cultural practices leading to zero-population growth and sustainable resource use. Using a modified Lotka-Volterra, predator-prey model, we find (1) investment in human-made capital does not necessarily eliminate the boom- and bust-cycles of economic activity and population observed in many past societies; and (2) institutional adaptation and resource conservation can be critical in achieving population stability.

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