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The Problem of the Commons: Still Unsettled after 100 Years

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  • Robert N. Stavins

Abstract

The problem of the commons is more important to our lives and thus more central to economics than a century ago when Katharine Coman led off the first issue of the American Economic Review. As the US and other economies have grown, the carrying capacity of the planet--in regard to natural resources and environmental quality--has become a greater concern, particularly for common-property and open-access resources. The focus of this article is on some important, unsettled problems of the commons. Within the realm of natural resources, there are special challenges associated with renewable resources, which are frequently characterized by open-access. An important example is the degradation of openaccess fisheries. Critical commons problems are also associated with environmental quality. A key contribution of economics has been the development of market-based approaches to environmental protection. These instruments are key to addressing the ultimate commons problem of the twenty-first century-global climate change. (JEL Q15, Q21, Q22, Q25, Q54)

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 101 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 81-108

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:101:y:2011:i:1:p:81-108

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Cited by:
  1. Hendrik P. Van Dalen & Kène Henkens, 2011. "Who fears and who welcomes population decline?," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 25(13), pages 437-464, August.
  2. Robert Hahn & Robert Ritz, 2014. "Optimal Altruism in Public Good Provision," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1403, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  3. Ralf Martin & Laure B. de Preux & Ulrich J. Wagner, 2009. "The impacts of the Climate Change Levy on business: evidence from microdata," Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment Working Papers 6, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
  4. Moraga, Jesús Fernández-Huertas & Rapoport, Hillel, 2011. "Tradable Immigration Quotas," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Docweb) 1114, CEPREMAP.
  5. Ralf Martin & Laure B. de Preux & Ulrich J. Wagner, 2011. "The Impacts of the Climate Change Levy on Manufacturing: Evidence from Microdata," NBER Working Papers 17446, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Christopher Costello & Nicolas Quérou & Agnes Tomini, 2013. "Partial enclosure of the commons," Working Papers 13-07, LAMETA, Universtiy of Montpellier, revised Apr 2013.
  7. Benno Torgler & Marco Piatti, 2011. "A Century of American Economic Review," School of Economics and Finance Discussion Papers and Working Papers Series 266, School of Economics and Finance, Queensland University of Technology.
  8. Wei Jin, 2012. "International Knowledge Spillover and Technology Externality: Why Multilateral R&D Coordination Matters for Global Climate Governance," CAMA Working Papers 2012-53, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
  9. Wei Jin, 2012. "Can China Harness Globalization to Reap Carbon Savings? Modeling International Technology Diffusion in a Multi-region Framework," CAMA Working Papers 2012-52, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
  10. Fenichel, Eli P., 2013. "Economic considerations for social distancing and behavioral based policies during an epidemic," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 440-451.

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