Managing Risk Through Cooperation: Need-Based Transfers and Risk Pooling Among the Societies of the Human Generosity Project

  • Lee CronkEmail author
  • Colette Berbesque
  • Thomas Conte
  • Matthew Gervais
  • Padmini Iyer
  • Brighid McCarthy
  • Dennis Sonkoi
  • Cathryn Townsend
  • Athena Aktipis
Part of the Studies in Human Ecology and Adaptation book series (STHE, volume 11)


Risk is inevitable, and managing it is an important component of individual and community strategies to adapt to local conditions. In this chapter we provide an overview of the risk management frameworks in eight communities to show how each society manages risk socially. We focus especially on the use of need-based transfers to buffer the effects of disasters and ecological uncertainty and provide abundant evidence that need-based transfers are a common strategy for the social management of risk. We use the terms need-based transfers and debt-based transfers rather than other existing terms because no current terms used in the literature capture the underlying logic of need-based transfers. They do not describe the kinds of formal, contractual risk-pooling arrangements found at some of our field sites. The Human Generosity Project, a transdisciplinary effort to examine both biological and cultural influences on human cooperation, has documented and analyzed these and many other examples of social risk management.


Risk management Cooperation Human Generosity Project 



The Human Generosity Project is supported primarily by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation titled “Generous by nature: Need-based transfers and the origins of human cooperation.” Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this chapter are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the John Templeton Foundation. Work by Human Generosity Project team members has also been supported by the National Science Foundation, American Center for Mongolian Studies, Fulbright IIE, and Rutgers’ Center for Human Evolutionary Studies.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lee Cronk
    • 1
    Email author
  • Colette Berbesque
    • 2
  • Thomas Conte
    • 1
  • Matthew Gervais
    • 3
  • Padmini Iyer
    • 1
  • Brighid McCarthy
    • 1
  • Dennis Sonkoi
    • 1
  • Cathryn Townsend
    • 1
  • Athena Aktipis
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA
  2. 2.Department of Life SciencesUniversity of RoehamptonLondonUK
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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