Benefit Sharing Among Local Resource Users: The Role of Property Rights

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Skewed distributions of benefits from natural resources can fuel social exclusion and conflict, threatening sustainability. This paper analyzes how user-group property rights to harvest forest products affect the distribution of benefits from those products within user groups. We argue that groups with recognized harvesting rights share benefits more equally among group members than groups without such rights. We test this argument with data from 350 forest user groups in 14 developing countries. Our results suggest that securing harvesting rights for local user groups can contribute to more equal benefit sharing, especially in ethnically homogenous groups.

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