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PREM Working Paper 05-06 - Pastureland degradation and poverty within herder communities in Mongolia: data analysis and game estimation

Author(s) Lise, W, Hess, S, Purev, B
Date 2005-05-30
Theme(s) Climate, Agriculture
Method(s) Game Theory
Serie(s) Working Papers


Since the beginning of the country’s transition to a market economy, herders in Mongolia have encountered enormous challenges. Degradation of pastureland resulting from overgrazing seriously jeopardizes the vulnerable livelihoods of herder household economies. An analysis of the grazing strategies used by herders in the Ugtaal district in the Tov province (North of the capital) and the Gurvansaikhan district in the Dundgovi province (south of the capital) is the focus of this study.

Analysis of collected primary data (using a Principle Component Analysis) revealed that herders in Ugtaal rank security before environmental quality in their grazing strategies, while herders in Gurvansaikhan rank environmental quality first. A regression analysis indicated that richer herders care more for the environment than poorer herders in Ugtaal. The game estimation shows that herders in Ugtaal face a reverse assurance game in choosing the growth in herd size. Hence, herd maximising behaviour leads to the highest payoff, while a second equilibrium exists where herders keep their herds constant. The herders in Gurvansaikhan also face a reverse assurance game in choosing the growth in herd size. The conclusion of this game is the same as for the game in Ugtaal. Institutional changes could alter herders’ behaviour, but this would come at the cost of lowering their income by about 30% in Gurvansaikhan, and by as much as 60% in Ugtaal.


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