14 de octubre de 2009

Mas sobre Elinor Ostrom

Since "everybody's property is nobody's property," how is it that there are so many cases where collectives of ordinary people with no education and with none of the economists' knowledge of "the tragedy of the commons," in fact discover ingenious rules (institutions) for taking the "tragedy" out of a productive resource they hold in common?

If you read her book you will find among the diversity of examples a Swiss village whose people have private property in the plots they plant and harvest, but also have a communal summer meadow for grazing their cows. One rule, still enforced, dating back to 1517 states that "no citizen could send more cows to the alp than he could feed during the winter." Wintering a cow is costly, and this rule rations access to the commons by tying it to private property rights. Numerous other examples include Japanese lands held by thousands in common under governance structures that avoided "tragedy;" also ancient solutions to communal water and irrigation systems that create effective enough private rights conferring benefits and costs that constrain use.

This should not be too surprising, because "property (originally propriety) rights" are about human rights and the challenge of defining them incentive-compatibly for mutual benefit...

Aquí el resto del artículo Governing the Commons del Premio Nobel de Economía 2002 Vernon Smith (y anteriormente profesor de George Mason University).

When economists show that market arrangements fail, they usually make the simple recommendation that “the” state should take care of these problems. Elinor Ostrom has demonstrated empirically that “the” state may not be “the” solution. Her work argues for the wisdom of institutional diversity, looking to individuals to solve problems rather than relying on top down, one-size-fits-all solutions...

Aquí el resto del artículo Elinor Ostrom on the Market, the State, and the Third Sector de Paul Dragus (Mercatus Center).

Ms Ostrom has concentrated on a different aspect of economic governance. She has spent her life studying how human societies manage common resources such as forests, rivers, pastures or wildlife. Just as with public goods, it is difficult to prevent people from using the commons. But unlike public goods, and like private ones, what one person takes leaves less for others. Economic theory then predicts that rational individuals will overuse these resources.

Economists have tended to emphasise property rights as a solution to the problem of managing common resources. Typically that involves either privatisation or putting the resource in government hands. But Ms Ostrom, who is a political scientist by training, spent much of her early career studying how communities managed such common resources. She found that groups of people tended to have complex sets of rules, norms and penalties to ensure that such resources were used sustainably. Such self-governance often worked well.

Aquí el resto del artículo de The Economist.

The work of Elinor Ostrom, the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize in economics, is not very well-known among economists. In fact, I would venture the guess than most economists had not heard of her before the prize was announced yesterday morning. Two reasons for this are that her degree is in political science and she has written for publications outside of the mainstream economics journals. Additionally, her work, by and large, lacks the high degree of mathematical formalism now so characteristic of economics...

Aquí el resto del comentario de Mark Rizzo, Elinor Ostrom and the Relevance of Economics.

There was an old tradition of economics that focused on the origins and nature of economic institutions. This tradition was very influential before World War II. But it proved not at all helpful during the Great Depression. My caricature version is that when the Depression hit, institutional economics, asked for advice about what to do, replied that well, it’s all very complicated, and has deep historical roots, and … Meanwhile, Keynesian economists, using very simple mathematical models, basically said “Push this button — we need more G”.

And this had a somewhat perverse effect. The rise of Keynesian economics also meant the rise of the equations guys (Samuelson in particular), and in the end the equations crowded out institutional economics even as Keynes fell into disfavor. But the questions didn’t go away. And institutional economics has been making a quiet comeback for the past several decades.

Aquí el resto del comentario de Paul Krugman, An Institutional Economics Prize.

Economists who have become addicted to skyhooks, who think that they are doing deep theory but are really just assuming their conclusions, find it hard to even understand what it would mean to make the rules that humans follow the object of scientific inquiry. If we fail to explore rules in greater depth, economists will have little to say about the most pressing issues facing humans today – how to improve the quality of bad rules that cause needless waste, harm, and suffering.

Cheers to the Nobel committee for recognizing work on one of the deepest issues in economics. Bravo to the political scientist who showed that she was a better economist than the economic imperialists who can’t tell the difference between assuming and understanding.

Aquí el resto del comentario de Paul Romer, Skyhooks versus Cranes: The Nobel Prize for Elinor Ostrom.