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The tragedy of the commons: property rights and markets as solutions to resource and environmental problems

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  • Libecap, Gary D.
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    Abstract

    In one way or another, all environmental and natural resource problems associated with overexploitation or under provision of public goods, arise from incompletely defined and enforced property rights. As a result private decision makers do not consider or internalize social benefits and costs in their production or investment actions. The gap between private and social net returns results in externalities – harmful effects on third parties: overfishing, excessive air pollution, unwarranted extraction or diversion of ground or surface water, extreme depletion of oil and gas reservoirs. These situations are all examples of the ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’. In this paper, I consider options for mitigating the losses of open access: common or group property regimes, government tax and regulation policy, more formal private property rights. I briefly summarize the problems and advantages of each option and describe why there has been move toward rights-based instruments in recent years: ITQ (individual transferable quotas), tradable emission permits, and private water rights. Introductions to the papers in the special issue follow.

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    File URL: http://purl.umn.edu/161910
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society in its journal Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

    Volume (Year): 53 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 1 (March)
    Pages:

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    Handle: RePEc:ags:aareaj:161910

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    Postal: AARES Central Office Manager, Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU, Canberra ACT 0200
    Phone: 0409 032 338
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    Web page: http://www.aares.info
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    Related research

    Keywords: Fisheries; efficiency; environmental & ecological economics; development economics; economic growth; bioeconomic models.; Environmental Economics and Policy; Resource /Energy Economics and Policy;

    References

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    1. Hay, George A & Kelley, Daniel, 1974. "An Empirical Survey of Price Fixing Conspiracies," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(1), pages 13-38, April.
    2. Alston, Lee J & Libecap, Gary D & Schneider, Robert, 1996. "The Determinants and Impact of Property Rights: Land Titles on the Brazilian Frontier," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(1), pages 25-61, April.
    3. Libecap, Gary D., 1978. "Economic Variables and the Development of the Law: The Case of Western Mineral Rights," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 38(02), pages 338-362, June.
    4. John McMillan, 1994. "Selling Spectrum Rights," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(3), pages 145-162, Summer.
    5. H. Scott Gordon, 1954. "The Economic Theory of a Common-Property Resource: The Fishery," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 62, pages 124.
    6. Anthony Scott, 1955. "The Fishery: The Objectives of Sole Ownership," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63, pages 116.
    7. Joskow, Paul L & Schmalensee, Richard, 1998. "The Political Economy of Market-Based Environmental Policy: The U.S. Acid Rain Program," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 41(1), pages 37-83, April.
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    Cited by:
    1. Polonsky, Michael Jay, 2011. "Transformative green marketing: Impediments and opportunities," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 64(12), pages 1311-1319.
    2. Wilson, Amanda, 2010. "Coastal planning in North Shore City, New Zealand: Developing responsible coastal erosion policy," 2010 Conference (54th), February 10-12, 2010, Adelaide, Australia 59260, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
    3. Christopher Costello & Nicolas Quérou & Agnes Tomini, 2013. "Partial enclosure of the commons," Working Papers 13-07, LAMETA, Universtiy of Montpellier, revised Apr 2013.

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