On modeling human behavior and institutions in simple ecological economic systems

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


The use of stylized dynamical systems models and bifurcation analysis in modeling individual and collective behavior in two traditional societies, the Tsembaga of New Guinea and the Polynesians of Easter Island, is explored. The analysis is used to isolate key aspects of individual behavior that open up the possibility of resource overexploitation and key aspects of institutions capable of preventing overexploitation. An extension of the Brander and Taylor [Am. Econ. Rev. 88 (1998) 119-138] Easter Island model with a more realistic model for individual behavior is presented. This induces significant changes in the model dynamics which share many similarities with the Tsembaga model of Anderies [J. Theor. Biol. 192 (1998) 515-530]. Namely, in both models, the ability of agents to intensify the exploitation of the resource base to attempt to meet demands is a fundamentally destabilizing force. The model implications for present day policy issues are explored. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)393-412
Number of pages20
JournalEcological Economics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Dynamic models
  • Resource governance
  • Subsistence economies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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