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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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    Cited by:

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    2. Veyssiere, Luc Pierre & Weninger, Quinn, 2009. "Fishing behavior across space and time," ISU General Staff Papers 200908100700001156, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    3. John Lynham, 2017. "Identifying Peer Effects Using Gold Rushers," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 93(3), pages 527-548.
    4. Stafford, Tess M., 2018. "Accounting for outside options in discrete choice models: An application to commercial fishing effort," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 159-179.
    5. 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.
    6. Hutniczak, Barbara & Münch, Angela, 2018. "Fishermen's location choice under spatio-temporal update of expectations," Journal of choice modelling, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 124-136.
    7. 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.
    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. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. Anna M. Birkenbach & Andreea L. Cojocaru & Frank Asche & Atle G. Guttormsen & Martin D. Smith, 2020. "Seasonal Harvest Patterns in Multispecies Fisheries," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 75(3), pages 631-655, March.
    12. Dale T. Manning & J. Edward Taylor & James E. Wilen, 2018. "General Equilibrium Tragedy of the Commons," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 69(1), pages 75-101, January.

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