Ecological theory explains why diverse island economies are more stable

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Significant work in ecology and economics has derived sophisticated frameworks for understanding system stability over time. Despite the potential of ecological methods to identify the processes underlying variation in stability, these methods have yet to be rigorously applied to economic systems. In this paper, a framework is presented for describing economic system stability as analogous to biological communities. As a proof of concept, this framework is applied to island export economies and demonstrates that economic stability increases with sectoral diversity. Furthermore, this relationship was driven not by the portfolio effect, as is commonly assumed, but by the mechanism of overyielding, whereby individual abundance (analogous to sector size or value) increases with diversity. The results suggest several means of managing export economies for stability. On a broader level, the results illustrate the importance of continued collaboration between the fields of economic development and ecology in facilitating our understanding of complex systems.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Vitro, KA; Welsh, ME; Bendor, TK; Moody, A

Published Date

  • January 1, 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 26 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 135 - 156

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0891-2513

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.25088/ComplexSystems.26.2.135

Citation Source

  • Scopus