Performance Payments for Groups: The Case of Carnivore Conservation in Northern Sweden


This paper presents a first empirical assessment of carnivore conservation under a performance payment scheme. In Sweden, reindeer herder villages are paid based on the number of lynx (lynx lynx) and wolverine (gulo gulo) offspring certified on their pastures. The villages decide on the internal payment distribution. It is generally assumed that benefit distribution rules are exogenous. We investigate them as an endogenous decision. The data reveals that villages’ group size has a direct negative effect on conservation outcomes and an indirect positive effect which impacts conservation outcomes through the benefit distribution rule. This result revises the collective action hypothesis on purely negative effects of group size.

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  1. 1.

    The term ‘Sami village’ refers to a community of reindeer herders, but also to the geographical area where a community has grazing rights, but not property rights. In the following, the term will refer to the community.

  2. 2.

    A step towards endogenizing benefit contribution within local communities is made in the Engel (2005) game-theoretic model of community-based irrigation management in Ghana. Payoffs in her model depend on land distribution and the distributional rule for maintenance costs. Land distribution is modelled as an endogenous outcome based on consensus and are shown to depend on the (exogenous) cost distribution rule.

  3. 3.

    Other joint income sources can stem from the sale of seasonal fishing licenses, sale of reindeer calves that were not marked by the owners, or compensations from hydropower plants or windmill entrepreneurs for reductions in grazing land. These income sources are usually a lot smaller than the carnivore performance payments.

  4. 4.

    In practice, the villages only take a formal vote if there is a dispute and otherwise agree by consensus during their annual meetings, or “stormöte”.

  5. 5.

    Lacking continuous data we use a binary variable which can pick up less variation in the data.

  6. 6.

    This bears the risk of biasing the results. We will therefore conduct the analysis below both with and without variables related to herd size


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The research presented in this paper was supported by the Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (FORMAS) and the North-South Centre at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich). We would like to thank Solveig Edin for her help with the practicalities of the mail survey, and all Sami carnivore contact persons and reindeer herders who kindly provided their time for the interviews and mail surveys.

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Correspondence to Göran Bostedt.

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Zabel, A., Bostedt, G. & Engel, S. Performance Payments for Groups: The Case of Carnivore Conservation in Northern Sweden. Environ Resource Econ 59, 613–631 (2014).

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  • Performance payments
  • Group payments
  • Wildlife conservation
  • Empirical policy assessment
  • Sweden
  • Lynx
  • Wolverine