The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences was given to its laureates over 80 times, with Ostrom and Duflo as the only female awardees.
Growing up, American political economist Elinor Ostrom was challenged by the walls of gender stereotypes; nonetheless, being a woman did not stop her from setting a new milestone in economics.
She was recognized for her scholarly work that addressed the economic dilemma, “tragedy of the commons.” Her analysis on economic governance led her not to win an award, but also to reveal methods on how community members can manage and share their common resources.
Political science professor Elinor Ostrom showed that common-pool resources, such as water supplies or fish, can be effectively managed collectively without government or private control.
But this is only possible if those using the resource are physically close to it and have a relationship with each other. They will self-police to ensure community rules are followed.
Looking at the rise and fall of historical civilizations, the forces that precipitate or delay a collapse can tell us about our own.
We can define collapse as a rapid and enduring loss of population, identity, and socio-economic complexity. Public services fold, and chaos ensues as the government loses control.
Some past civilizations recovered, such as the Chinese and Egyptian. Other collapses were permanent. Sometimes the epicenter is revived, such as Rome. In other cases, they are left abandoned, as was the case with the Mayan ruins.
Humans have a long history of cooperating together, which has helped us survive and thrive for hundreds of thousands of years in places around the world.
There is a pervasive form of zero-sum thinking that holds that we should look out for number one, and that helping others or being kind is a mug’s game where you somehow lose out by doing so. But this is completely untrue. The history of life on earth is a history of teamwork, of collective action, and of cooperation. Being part of a team is better than going it alone. Cooperation has been and still is the route to our species’s success.
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