Sharing Common Resources in Patriarchal and Status-Based Societies: Evidence from Tanzania

Els Lecoutere*, Ben D’Exelle, Bjorn Van Campenhout

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


ABSTRACT: In rural African societies, socioeconomic differentiation linked to gender and social status exerts an important influence on the distribution of common-pool resources. Through a behavioral experiment conducted in 2008 in rural Tanzania, this contribution examines the influence of gender and social status on distribution behavior of users of self-governed common watersheds. It finds that men and women with low social status distribute water equally when water is abundant but keep larger shares when water is scarce, although low-status women try to be as fair as possible at the expense of their returns from irrigated agriculture. Men of high social status keep more than half of the available water for themselves, both in abundance and scarcity, and deprive others from sizeable returns from irrigated agriculture. Women of high social status share altruistically when water is abundant and equally when water is scarce, giving up on returns from irrigated agriculture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-167
Number of pages26
JournalFeminist Economics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • common-pool resources
  • Gender
  • rural Sub-Saharan Africa
  • sharing
  • social status


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