Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Resource Economics

Dissertation of Lars Berger

Economic decision-making from an institutional perspective. The case of non-point-source pollution in Lake Taihu, P.R.C.

Start: April 11
End: April 14

Water pollution has aroused a nationwide public concern in the Peoples’ Republic of China because of the accelerated eutrophication of surface waters, becoming one of the most important factors impeding sustainable economic development. In the specific example of Lake Taihu in Zhejiang Province the hyper-eutrophication is caused by an excessive amount of nutrients from agricultural non-point-source pollution. Chemical fertilizers are the main source of nitrogen insertion. Currently, the use of chemical fertilizers in this area is 75 % higher than the world average. Standard economic arguments like uncertainty or opportunity costs do explain a substantial part of the problem, but the extreme phenomenon of over-application induces an approach to go beyond such arguments and to investigate the farmers’ choices reflecting norms, rules and expectations built into institutions. By using quantitative and qualitative methods within an extensive field research, the author analyzes socio-economic factors that motivate farmers to the excessive use of fertilizers focussing on the influence of the institutional environment. The results shall provide insights into different factors of decision-making, and the interaction of institutions and human behaviour. Thus, a contribution to the enhancement of theory based on the specific Chinese example of Lake Taihu shall be made.

Researcher: Berger, Lars

Cooperation Partners: Nanjing Agricultural University, China Agricultural University Beijing, Zhejiang University

Advisor: Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Konrad Hagedorn, Prof. Dr. Arild Vatn (Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Ås)

Funding: Federal Ministry for Education and Research (mobility), German Foundation for the Environment (research)


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