Erwin Bulte on participatory resource management, elite capture and local livelihoods

WIDER Seminar Series

Erwin Bulte on participatory resource management, elite capture and local livelihoods

Abstract - Participatory resource management, elite capture and local livelihoods: experimental evidence from rural Ethiopia

Evidence on the effectiveness of participatory development approaches in low-income countries is mixed. We use an experiment to study elite capture in a large sample of Ethiopian forest user groups, varying governance modalities and exploring implications for livelihoods of group members. External monitoring by forestry officials increases average consumption and income levels, and decreases within-group inequality. In contrast, bottom-up monitoring by group members or the provision of incentives to group leaders for inclusive management have no impact on livelihoods for the average group member.

Additional analysis suggests that bottom-up monitoring fails because many group members do not care enough about flows of forest benefits to invest time in monitoring. In the sub-sample of groups where forest benefits are an important component of rural livelihoods, internal monitoring had a positive effect on economic outcomes.

About the speaker 

Erwin is the professor of development economics in Wageningen. He obtained his Phd from Wageningen University in 1997. He has extensive expertise in natural resource economics, institutional economics and agricultural economics in developing countries. He has worked on various topics, including value chain development, gender equality, trust and regulation, and impact assessment of training interventions.

Much of his work involves field experimental methods, either artefactual field experiments (lab-in-the-field) or randomized controlled trials, but he also has an interest in applied theoretical analyses. Erwin is an elected member of the Dutch Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW).

WIDER Seminar Series

The WIDER Seminar Series showcases recent and ongoing work on key topics in development economics. The weekly sessions held in Helsinki are open to local and visiting researchers, policy makers, and others interested in development topics. Click here to learn more.

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