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The Ecological and Civil Mainsprings of Property: An Experimental Economic History of Whalers’ Rules of Capture

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Author Info

  • Bart J. Wilson

    ()
    (Economic Science Institute, Chapman University)

  • Taylor Jaworski

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Arizona)

  • Karl Schurter

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Virginia)

  • Andrew Smyth

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Florida State University)

Abstract

This paper uses a laboratory experiment to probe the proposition that property emerges anarchically out of social custom. We test the hypothesis that whalers in the 18th and 19th century developed rules of conduct that minimized the sum of the transaction and production costs of capturing their prey, the primary implication being that different ecological conditions lead to different rules of capture. Holding everything else constant, we find that simply imposing two different types of prey is insufficient to observe two different rules of capture. Another factor is essential, namely that the members of the community are civil-minded.

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File URL: http://www.chapman.edu/ESI/wp/Wilson_Whaling.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Chapman University, Economic Science Institute in its series Working Papers with number 10-12.

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Length: 57 pages
Date of creation: May 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:chu:wpaper:10-12

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Keywords: property rights; endogenous rules; whaling; experimental economics;

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References

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  1. Roberto A. Weber, 2006. "Managing Growth to Achieve Efficient Coordination in Large Groups," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 114-126, March.
  2. Kimbrough, Erik O. & Smith, Vernon L. & Wilson, Bart J., 2010. "Exchange, theft, and the social formation of property," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 74(3), pages 206-229, June.
  3. Rigdon, Mary & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon, 2001. "Sustaining cooperation in trust games," MPRA Paper 2006, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 23 Apr 2006.
  4. Daniel Houser & David Reiley & Michael Urbancic, 2004. "Checking Out Temptation: An Natural Experiment with Purchases at the Grocery Register," Working Papers 1001, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science, revised Nov 2008.
  5. Taylor Jaworski & Bart J. Wilson, 2013. "Go West Young Man: Self-Selection and Endogenous Property Rights," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 886-904, April.
  6. Gunnthorsdottir, Anna & Houser, Daniel & McCabe, Kevin, 2007. "Disposition, history and contributions in public goods experiments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 304-315, February.
  7. Sean Crockett & Vernon Smith & Bart Wilson, 2006. "Exchange and Specialization as a Discovery Process," Working Papers 1002, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science, revised May 2006.
  8. Clay, Karen & Wright, Gavin, 2005. "Order without law? Property rights during the California gold rush," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 155-183, April.
  9. David J. Cooper & John H. Kagel, 2005. "Are Two Heads Better Than One? Team versus Individual Play in Signaling Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 477-509, June.
  10. Umbeck, John, 1977. "The California gold rush: A study of emerging property rights," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 197-226, July.
  11. Hirshleifer, Jack, 1995. "Anarchy and Its Breakdown," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(1), pages 26-52, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Erik O. Kimbrough & Bart J. Wilson, 2012. "Insiders, outsiders, and the adaptability of informal rules to ecological shocks," Working Papers dp12-20, CRABE, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.
  2. Joy A. Buchanan & Bart J. Wilson, 2012. "An Experiment on Protecting Intellectual Property," Working Papers 12-09, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.

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