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Insiders, outsiders, and the adaptability of informal rules to ecological shocks

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Abstract

The history of the world is strewn with the remains of societies whose institutions failed to adapt to ecological change, but the determinants of institutional fragility are difficult to identify in the historical record. We report a laboratory experiment that explores the impact of an exogenous ecological shock on the informal rules of property and exchange. We find that geographically induced tribal sentiments, which are unobservable in the historical record, impede adaptation post-shock and that inequality declines as wealth and sociableness increase. Quantitative measures of individual and group sociality account for some of the differences in successful or failed adaptation.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University in its series Discussion Papers with number dp12-20.

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Length: 40
Date of creation: Jul 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:sfu:sfudps:dp12-20

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Postal: Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC, V5A 1S6, Canada
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Fax: (778)782-5944
Web page: http://www.sfu.ca/economics.html
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Postal: Working Paper Coordinator, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC, V5A 1S6, Canada
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Keywords: Experimental Economics; Rules; Ecological Shocks;

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  13. Bart J. Wilson & Taylor Jaworski & Karl Schurter & Andrew Smyth, 2010. "The Ecological and Civil Mainsprings of Property: An Experimental Economic History of Whalers’ Rules of Capture," Working Papers, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute 10-12, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
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