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Institutions and Incentives in a Garhwal Village-I

Historical evidence is often used to support decentralised solutions to resource conservation, where local inhabitants manage common resources in the region. Using data from a field study in Garhwal, this article points out that the analysis on which this evidence is based does not take into account the economic environment at that time. Once the chronic shortage of labour in these economies is explicitly recognised, an alternative explanation for most 'institutions' of resource conservation, based on the need to conserve labour, can be provided. This challenges the prevailing view of the Garhwali inhabitant as traditionally 'conservationist', and has significant repercussions for policy.

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