Need-Based Transfers Enhance Resilience to Shocks: An Agent-Based Model of a Maasai Risk-Pooling System

Marco Campennì, Lee Cronk, Athena Aktipis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Maasai and other Maa-speaking pastoralists in Kenya and Tanzania have a risk-pooling system that they refer to by their word for the umbilical cord (osotua). Gifts from one osotua partner to another are contingent on the recipient’s need and do not create any debt. We refer to such gifts as need-based transfers. Maa-speakers also have a system of debt-based transfers (esile) in which gifts must be repaid. We designed an agent-based model to compare the impacts on herd survival of need-based and debt-based transfers on networks of varying topologies and sizes and with different degrees of temporal correlation of shocks felt by the agents. We found that the use of need-based rather than debt-based transfers, greater network modularity, greater network size, and decreased correlation among shocks were associated with increased rates of survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalHuman Ecology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • Agent-based modelling
  • Kenya Tanzania
  • Need-based transfers
  • Risk pooling
  • Small-scale societies
  • Social networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Anthropology
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science

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