A bit earlier this year I got a paper published in Evolution and Human Behavior. In general, the paper investigates how pastoral slaughter strategies are shaped in the reindeer husbandry in Norway.
From a governmental point of view, the reindeer husbandry is characterised by overstocking of reindeer (especially in the northern parts of the country). As a consequence, the Norwegian government has initiated a subsidy policy aiming to stimulate households to slaughter as many reindeer as possible so as to reduce the number of reindeer and thereby create a sustainable reindeer husbandry. Nevertheless, in spite of this subsidy policy, the number of reindeer has increased rather than decreased. This indicates that reindeer herders do not make slaughter related decisions from a purely economic point of view.
In general, the reindeer husbandry is organised in the following manner: siida share (household), siida (cooperative network consisting of several siida shares) and district (official organisational level consisting one of more siida shares). At present, subsidies aimed at stimulating slaughter is only targeting the lowest level of social organisation (siida shares). Nevertheless, results from this study indicates that slaughter strategies are shaped by processes at different levels of social organisation: by both herders’ own wealth (herd size) and what others are doing (no. of animals slaughtered by neighbouring households). Given the governmental aim to stimulate slaughter so as to reduce the number of reindeer in Finnmark, subsidies that only target one level of social organisation is arguably problematic because they are not based on how herders actually make decisions. In other words, subsidies cannot be aimed at reinforcing behaviour at only the level of individual actors but also have to take into account that individuals behave strategically in relation to other people.
For more details, see Næss et al. (2012).
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