Resource scarcity, effort allocation and environmental security: An agent-based theoretical approach
It is widely feared that environmental degradation induced by climate change may lead to economic and political insecurity through channels such as resource scarcity and mass migration. In this paper, we have developed an agent-based model to study whether resource scarcity is likely to lead to an increase in the appropriation of resources in environments where adaptive agents can allocate a fraction of their effort to predatory behavior. By enriching a production and conflict model through the introduction of separate product and resource appropriations, we show how boundedly-rational agents capable of learning can update their adaptive expectations and optimize their allocation decisions using a genetic framework. Arising from a few simple rules, the results show a high level of complexity in agents' allocation behavior with outputs ranging from no statistically significant allocation changes to widespread conflict in the environment, depending on the initial conditions and the nature of the scenarios. Overall the results support previous empirical findings that the main link between resource scarcity and conflict is through changes in the distribution of resources rather than their overall availability.
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