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Partial enclosure of the commons

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  • Christopher Costello
  • Nicolas Quérou
  • Agnes Tomini

Abstract

We examine the efficiency, distributional, and environmental consequences of assigning spatial property rights to part of a spatially-connected natural resource, a situation which we refer to as partial enclosure of the commons. The model reflects on a large class of institutions and natural resources for which complete enclosure by a sole owner may be desirable, but is often institutionally impractical. When a sole owner is granted ownership of only a fraction of the spatial domain of the resource and the remainder of the resource is competed for by an open access fringe, interesting spatial externalities arise. We obtain sharp analytical results regarding partial enclosure of the commons including: (1) While second best, it always improves welfare relative to no property rights, (2) all resource users are made better off, (3) positive rents arise in the open access area, and the resource will maintain higher abundance. Under spatial heterogeneity, we also character- ize spatial regions that are ideal candidates for partial enclosure - typically, society should seek to enclose those patches with high ecological productivity and high self-retention, but whether high economic parameters promote or relegate a patch may depend on one’s objective. These results help inform a burgeoning trend around the world to partially enclose the commons.

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File URL: http://www.lameta.univ-montp1.fr/Documents/DR2013-07.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by LAMETA, Universtiy of Montpellier in its series Working Papers with number 13-07.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2013
Date of revision: Apr 2013
Handle: RePEc:lam:wpaper:13-07

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References

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  1. Robert N. Stavins, 2010. "The Problem of the Commons: Still Unsettled after 100 Years," Working Papers 2010.131, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  2. Rosenman, Robert E., 1986. "The optimal tax for maximum economic yield: Fishery regulation under rational expectations," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 348-362, December.
  3. Weitzman, Martin L., 2002. "Landing Fees vs Harvest Quotas with Uncertain Fish Stocks," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 325-338, March.
  4. Nicolas Quérou & Agnès Tomini, 2012. "Managing interacting species in unassessed fisheries," Working Papers 12-32, LAMETA, Universtiy of Montpellier, revised Oct 2012.
  5. Fischer, Carolyn & Laxminarayan, Ramanan, 2010. "Managing partially protected resources under uncertainty," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 129-141, March.
  6. Gary D. Libecap, 2009. "The tragedy of the commons: property rights and markets as solutions to resource and environmental problems," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 53(1), pages 129-144, 01.
  7. Reed, William J., 1979. "Optimal escapement levels in stochastic and deterministic harvesting models," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 350-363, December.
  8. Colombo, Luca & Labrecciosa, Paola, 2013. "Oligopoly exploitation of a private property productive asset," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 838-853.
  9. Kaffine Daniel T & Costello Christopher, 2011. "Unitization of Spatially Connected Renewable Resources," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 11(1), pages 1-31, March.
  10. Libecap, Gary D., 2009. "The tragedy of the commons: property rights and markets as solutions to resource and environmental problems," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 53(1), March.
  11. Costello, Christopher & Polasky, Stephen, 2008. "Optimal harvesting of stochastic spatial resources," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 1-18, July.
  12. Sanchirico, James N. & Wilen, James E., 2005. "Optimal spatial management of renewable resources: matching policy scope to ecosystem scale," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 23-46, July.
  13. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  14. Christopher Costello & Stephen Polasky & Andrew Solow, 2001. "Renewable resource management with environmental prediction," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 34(1), pages 196-211, February.
  15. Christopher Costello & Daniel T. Kaffine, 2010. "Marine protected areas in spatial property-rights fisheries ," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 54(3), pages 321-341, 07.
  16. Stranlund, John K. & Dhanda, Kanwalroop Kathy, 1999. "Endogenous Monitoring and Enforcement of a Transferable Emissions Permit System," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 267-282, November.
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