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The tradeoff of the commons

  • McAfee, R. Preston
  • Miller, Alan D.

We develop a model of scarce, renewable resources to study the commons problem. We show that, contrary to conventional wisdom, property rights can often be less efficient than a commons. In particular, we study two effects: (1) waste which arises when individuals expend resources to use a resource unavailable due to congestion and (2) the risk of underutilization of the resource. We provide necessary and sufficient conditions for each effect to dominate the other when the cost of determining the availability of a resource is low.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 96 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 349-353

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:96:y:2012:i:3:p:349-353
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  1. Noam, Eli, 1998. "Spectrum Auctions: Yesterday's Heresy, Today's Orthodoxy, Tomorrow's Anachronism. Taking the Next Step to Open Spectrum Access," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 41(2), pages 765-90, October.
  2. Roth, Alvin E & Xing, Xiaolin, 1994. "Jumping the Gun: Imperfections and Institutions Related to the Timing of Market Transactions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 992-1044, September.
  3. Bagnoli, M. & Bergstrom, T., 1989. "Log-Concave Probability And Its Applications," Papers 89-23, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
  4. Chakravarty, Surajeet & Kaplan, Todd R & Myles, Gareth, 2010. "The Benefits of Costly Voting," MPRA Paper 21372, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Chander, Parkash & Leruth, Luc., 1988. "The Optimal Product-Mix for a Monopolist in the Presence of Congestion Effect: A Model and Some Results," Working Papers 673, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  6. Hazlett, Thomas W, 1998. "Spectrum Flash Dance: Eli Noam's Proposal for "Open Access" to Radio Waves," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 41(2), pages 805-20, October.
  7. H. Scott Gordon, 1954. "The Economic Theory of a Common-Property Resource: The Fishery," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 62, pages 124.
  8. Anthony Scott, 1955. "The Fishery: The Objectives of Sole Ownership," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63, pages 116.
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