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Dissecting the tragedy: A spatial model of behavior in the commons

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  • Abbott, Joshua K.
  • Wilen, James E.

Abstract

Much of the discussion of the tragedy of the commons focuses on aggregate impacts, often in data-poor developing country settings. Few non-experimental empirical studies shed light on contextual circumstances driving the extent of rent dissipation and overexploitation. We utilize a high-resolution data set to estimate a behavioral model of fishermen's spatial choices. A unique policy setting allows us to measure the degree to which individual fishermen's choices appear aimed at mitigating the tragedy of the commons in a small numbers setting. We find evidence of partial mitigation in excess of what we would expect under pure self-interest but short of what would occur under group-maximizing behavior. We also examine how contextual factors in the fishery shape the degree of cooperation within the fishing season and find evidence that competition for the common pool resource distorts fishermen's implicit cost of distance—creating a form of “common property inertia”.

Suggested Citation

  • Abbott, Joshua K. & Wilen, James E., 2011. "Dissecting the tragedy: A spatial model of behavior in the commons," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 62(3), pages 386-401.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeeman:v:62:y:2011:i:3:p:386-401
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jeem.2011.07.001
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Veyssiere, Luc Pierre & Weninger, Quinn, 2009. "Fishing Behavior Across Space and Time," Staff General Research Papers Archive 31848, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    2. repec:uwp:landec:v:93:y:2017:i:3:p:527-548 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Villamayor-Tomas, Sergio, 2014. "Cooperation in common property regimes under extreme drought conditions: Empirical evidence from the use of pooled transferable quotas in Spanish irrigation systems," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 482-493.
    4. Haynie, Alan C. & Hicks, Robert L. & Schnier, Kurt E., 2009. "Common property, information, and cooperation: Commercial fishing in the Bering Sea," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 406-413, December.
    5. John Lynham, 2017. "Identifying Peer Effects Using Gold Rushers," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 93(3), pages 527-548.
    6. Cavalcanti, Carina & Engel, Stefanie & Leibbrandt, Andreas, 2013. "Social integration, participation, and community resource management," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 262-276.
    7. Eugenio Figueroa & Roberto Pasten, 2014. "Economically valuing nature resources to promote conservation: An empirical application to Chile's national system of protected areas," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 93(4), pages 865-888, November.
    8. Jonathan E. Hughes & Daniel Kaffine, 2013. "When is Encouraging Consumption of Common Property Second Best? Sorting, Congestion and Entry in the Commons," Working Papers 2013-05, Colorado School of Mines, Division of Economics and Business.
    9. repec:kap:enreec:v:69:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10640-016-0066-7 is not listed on IDEAS

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