Analyzing Institutional Successes and Failures: A Millennium of Common Mountain Pastures in Iceland


"Throughout their history, the island economies of the North Atlantic have relied to a large extent on common property resources both in agriculture and in the fisheries. It is well established that the sharing of resources need not always lead to a full-scale dissipation of wealth, the tragedy of the commons, when certain conditions are met. However, it is also well known that communities often fail to establish institutions for restricting entry to the commons, and, even when they exist, these institutions are often fragile structures, vulnerable to pressures from population growth, technological change, and shifts in political power and processes. Therefore, it is of considerable interest to examine the evolution of property rights to natural resources in the North Atlantic communities, such as Iceland, Greenland, and the Faroes, and investigate whether institutions did emerge in these societies that effectively regulated entry and prevented the dissipation of their natural resources. The present study is concerned with the law and economics of Icelandic agriculture, specifically with the institutions that for more than a thousand years have regulated the use of the country's extensive common mountain pastures."



common pool resources--economics, land tenure and use, property rights, tragedy of the commons, Workshop, agriculture, mountain regions, pastoralism