ABOUT THIS BOOK
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.