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Preferences for government enforcement of a common pool harvest quota: Theory and experimental evidence from fishing communities in Colombia

  • Velez, Maria Alejandra
  • Stranlund, John K.
  • Murphy, James J.

We examine individual harvesters' preferences for government enforcement of a quota imposed on the exploitation of a common pool resource. We develop a model of Nash behavior by identical risk neutral harvesters to explain individual equilibrium preferences for enforcement of an efficient harvest quota. If the quota is not enforced well, we demonstrate that individual harvesters will always prefer increased enforcement—either increased monitoring or increased penalties—of the quota. We conduct a test of this theoretical result with data from framed common pool resource experiments conducted in artisanal fishing communities in three regions of Colombia. Subjects were given the opportunity to express their preferences for enforcement by voting on two levels of enforcement of a harvest quota, with and without communication. The two enforcement strategies involved the same probability that the government would audit individual harvesters, but differed in the level of the penalty for noncompliance. Contrary to theory, individuals voted for the lower inefficient penalty about 80% of the time and groups implemented this weaker enforcement strategy over 90% of the time. Giving subjects the opportunity to vote on the enforcement strategy did not lead to more efficient harvests, nor did allowing subjects to communicate before voting.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

Volume (Year): 77 (2012)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 185-192

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:77:y:2012:i:c:p:185-192
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolecon

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  1. Velez, Maria Alejandra & Stranlund, John K. & Murphy, James J., 2009. "What motivates common pool resource users? Experimental evidence from the field," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 485-497, June.
  2. Bischoff, Ivo, 2007. "Institutional choice versus communication in social dilemmas--An experimental approach," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 20-36, January.
  3. Ostrom, Elinor, 2009. "Beyond Markets and States: Polycentric Governance of Complex Economic Systems," Nobel Prize in Economics documents 2009-4, Nobel Prize Committee.
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  7. Magdalena Margreiter & Matthias Sutter & Dennis Dittrich, 2005. "Individual and Collective Choice and Voting in Common Pool Resource Problem with Heterogeneous Actors," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 32(2), pages 241-271, October.
  8. Alm, James & McClelland, Gary H & Schulze, William D, 1999. "Changing the Social Norm of Tax Compliance by Voting," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(2), pages 141-71.
  9. Cornes, Richard & Sandler, Todd, 1983. "On Commons and Tragedies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 787-92, September.
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  12. Jana Vyrastekova & Daan van Soest, 2003. "Centralized Common-Pool Management and Local Community Participation," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 79(4), pages 500-514.
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