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The Problem of the Commons: Still Unsettled After 100 Years

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  • Stavins, Robert N.

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 U.S. 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 open-access 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.

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Paper provided by Resources For the Future in its series Discussion Papers with number dp-10-46.

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Date of creation: 22 Sep 2010
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Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-10-46

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Keywords: common-property resource; open-access resource; fisheries; global climate change;

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Cited by:
  1. Ralf Martin & Ulrich J. Wagner & Laure B. de Preux, 2009. "The Impacts of the Climate Change Levy on business: Evidence from Microdata," CEP Discussion Papers dp0917, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  2. 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.
  3. Jesús Fernández-Huertas Moraga & Hillel Rapoport, 2011. "Tradable Immigration Quotas," Working Papers 2011-26, Department of Economics, Bar-Ilan University.
  4. Torgler, Benno & Piatti, Marco, 2011. "A Century of American Economic Review," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt6h59v4m6, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Christopher Costello & Nicolas Quérou & Agnes Tomini, 2013. "Partial enclosure of the commons," Working Papers 13-07, LAMETA, Universtiy of Montpellier, revised Apr 2013.
  10. Robert Hahn & Robert Ritz, 2014. "Optimal Altruism in Public Good Provision," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1403, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.

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