Cover image for Preserving public lands for the future : the politics of intergenerational goods
Title:
Preserving public lands for the future : the politics of intergenerational goods
Author:
Lowry, William R. (William Robert), 1953-
Publication Information:
Washington, DC : Georgetown University Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
xvi, 297 pages : maps ; 24 cm.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780878407019

9780878407026
Format :
Book

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Central Library SB421 .L72 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Summary

Summary

Comparing data from national parks in several countries, William Lowry investigates how, and under what conditions, governments can provide for future generations.


Summary

Comparing national efforts to preserve public lands, William R. Lowry investigates how effectively and under what conditions governments can provide goods for future generations.

Providing intergenerational goods, ranging from balanced budgets to space programs and natural environments, is particularly challenging because most political incentives reward short-term behavior. Lowry examines the effect of institutional structure on the public delivery of these goods. He offers a theoretical framework accounting for both the necessary conditions -- public demand, political stability, and official commitment to long-term delivery -- and constraining factors -- the tensions between public agencies and politicians as well as between different levels of government -- that determine the ability of a nation to achieve long-term goals.

In support of this argument, Lowry evaluates data on park systems from more than one hundred countries and provides in-depth case studies of four -- he United States, Australia, Canada, and Costa Rica -- to show how and why the delivery of intergenerational goods can vary. For each of the cases, he reviews background information, discusses constraints on agency behavior, and assesses expansion of the park systems and restoration of natural conditions at specific locations.

This extensive comparative analysis of the preservation of public lands offers new insights into the capability of nations to pursue long-term goals.


Author Notes

William R. Lowry is associate professor of political science at Washington University in St. Louis and author of The Dimensions of Federalism (Duke University Press, 1992) and The Capacity for Wonder (Brookings Institution Press, 1994).


Reviews 2

Choice Review

Significant study has been devoted to the development of national park systems, as well as to tension between their recreational purposes and their long-term preservation. In the spirit of the latter, Lowry (Washington Univ.) examines cases involving four national park systems--US, Australia, Canada, and Costa Rica. _He views these systems in the context of what he terms "intergenerational impure public goods," and argues that there are, among other barriers, significant vertical (notably, various subnational government units) and horizontal constraints (political vagaries of related agencies or elected bodies) that contribute to nearsighted park policies. Lowry's suggested antidotes include a strong demand for intergenerational goods linked to an increasingly educated populace, official commitment that produces focused mandates for long-term preservation, and more autonomy and discretion for park systems. Although written broadly from an economic and policy perspective, Lowry's interweaving of anecdotal illustrations and well-chosen detail within the broader theoretical framework makes for a compelling argument, and builds on his excellent earlier work The Capacity for Wonder: Preserving National Parks (CH, Jan'95). Recommended for all levels, particularly upper-division undergraduate and graduate collections in public policy, environmental studies, or resource planning. Undergraduates through professionals. L. S. Cline; Southwest Missouri State University


Choice Review

Significant study has been devoted to the development of national park systems, as well as to tension between their recreational purposes and their long-term preservation. In the spirit of the latter, Lowry (Washington Univ.) examines cases involving four national park systems--US, Australia, Canada, and Costa Rica. _He views these systems in the context of what he terms "intergenerational impure public goods," and argues that there are, among other barriers, significant vertical (notably, various subnational government units) and horizontal constraints (political vagaries of related agencies or elected bodies) that contribute to nearsighted park policies. Lowry's suggested antidotes include a strong demand for intergenerational goods linked to an increasingly educated populace, official commitment that produces focused mandates for long-term preservation, and more autonomy and discretion for park systems. Although written broadly from an economic and policy perspective, Lowry's interweaving of anecdotal illustrations and well-chosen detail within the broader theoretical framework makes for a compelling argument, and builds on his excellent earlier work The Capacity for Wonder: Preserving National Parks (CH, Jan'95). Recommended for all levels, particularly upper-division undergraduate and graduate collections in public policy, environmental studies, or resource planning. Undergraduates through professionals. L. S. Cline; Southwest Missouri State University


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