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Trade, Tragedy, and the Commons

  • Brian R. Copeland
  • M. Scott Taylor

We develop a theory of resource management where the degree to which countries escape the tragedy of the commons, and hence the de facto property rights regime, is endogenously determined. Three forces determine success or failure in resource management: the regulator's enforcement power, the extent of harvesting capacity, and the ability of the resource to generate competitive returns without being extinguished. The model can explain heterogeneity across countries and resources in the effectiveness of resource management, and it predicts that changes in prices, population, and technology can cause transitions to better or worse management regimes. (JEL P14, Q21, Q22, Q23, Q32)

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.99.3.725
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 99 (2009)
Issue (Month): 3 (June)
Pages: 725-49

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:99:y:2009:i:3:p:725-49
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.99.3.725
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  1. Robert T. Deacon, 1994. "Deforestation and the Rule of Law in a Cross-Section of Countries," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 70(4), pages 414-430.
  2. Chichilnisky, Graciela, 1994. "North-South Trade and the Global Environment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 851-74, September.
  3. Mason, Charles F & Polasky, Stephen, 1994. "Entry Deterrence in the Commons," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 35(2), pages 507-25, May.
  4. James Brander & M. Scott Taylor, 1997. "International Trade Between Consumer and Conservationist Countries," NBER Working Papers 6006, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  8. Place, Frank & Otsuka, Keijiro, 2001. "Population, Tenure, and Natural Resource Management: The Case of Customary Land Area in Malawi," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 13-32, January.
  9. Elinor Ostrom, 2000. "Collective Action and the Evolution of Social Norms," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 137-158, Summer.
  10. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
  11. Edward B. Barbier, 2002. "Institutional Constraints and Deforestation: An Application to Mexico," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 40(3), pages 508-519, July.
  12. Calvo, Guillermo A & Obstfeld, Maurice, 1988. "Optimal Time-Consistent Fiscal Policy with Finite Lifetimes," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(2), pages 411-32, March.
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  14. Besley, Timothy, 1995. "Property Rights and Investment Incentives: Theory and Evidence from Ghana," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(5), pages 903-37, October.
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