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The polluted ecosystem game


  • W.A. Brock
  • W.D. Dechert


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to address the issue of optimal management of ecosystems by developing a dynamic model of strategic behavior by users/communities of an ecosystem such as a lake, which is subject to pollution resulting from the users. More specifically, it builds a model of two ecosystems that are spatially connected. Design/methodology/approach - The paper uses the techniques of optimal control theory and game theory. Findings - The paper uncovers sufficient conditions under which the analysis of the dynamic game can be converted to an optimal problem for a pseudo authority. It is shown that if the discount rate on the future is high enough relative to ecological self-restoration parameters then multiple stable states appear. In this case, if the pollution level is high enough it is too costly in terms of what must be given up today to restore the damaged system. By using computational methods, the paper evaluates the relative strengths of lack of coordination, strength of ecosystem self-cleaning forces, size of discount rates, etc. Originality/value - The methodology as well as findings can help to devise an optimal management strategy over time for ecosystems.

Suggested Citation

  • W.A. Brock & W.D. Dechert, 2008. "The polluted ecosystem game," Indian Growth and Development Review, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 1(1), pages 7-31, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:igdrpp:v:1:y:2008:i:1:p:7-31

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Clark, Colin W. & Munro, Gordon R. & Sumaila, Ussif Rashid, 2005. "Subsidies, buybacks, and sustainable fisheries," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 47-58, July.
    2. Burton, Peter S., 2003. "Community enforcement of fisheries effort restrictions," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 45(2, Supple), pages 474-491, March.
    3. Fleurbaey, Marc, 2012. "Fairness, Responsibility, and Welfare," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199653591.
    4. Baland, Jean-Marie & Francois, Patrick, 2005. "Commons as insurance and the welfare impact of privatization," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 211-231, February.
    5. Jeff Dayton-Johnson & Pranab Bardhan, 2002. "Inequality And Conservation On The Local Commons: A Theoretical Exercise," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(481), pages 577-602, July.
    6. Baland, Jean-Marie & Platteau, Jean-Philippe, 2003. "Economics of common property management regimes," Handbook of Environmental Economics,in: K. G. Mäler & J. R. Vincent (ed.), Handbook of Environmental Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 4, pages 127-190 Elsevier.
    7. Ambec, Stefan & Hotte, Louis, 2006. "On the redistributive impact of privatizing a resource under imperfect enforcement," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(06), pages 677-696, December.
    8. Sethi, Rajiv & Somanathan, E, 1996. "The Evolution of Social Norms in Common Property Resource Use," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 766-788, September.
    9. Weitzman, Martin L., 1974. "Free access vs private ownership as alternative systems for managing common property," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 225-234, June.
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