IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Asymmetrical Contributions to the Tragedy of the Commons and Some Implications for Conservation

Listed author(s):
  • Jennifer Jacquet


    (Environmental Studies, New York University, 285 Mercer Street, 10th floor, New York, NY 10003, USA)

  • David Frank

    (Environmental Studies, New York University, 285 Mercer Street, 10th floor, New York, NY 10003, USA)

  • Christopher Schlottmann

    (Environmental Studies, New York University, 285 Mercer Street, 10th floor, New York, NY 10003, USA)

Registered author(s):

    In Garrett Hardin’s popular essay on “The Tragedy of the Commons”, he presents a model of a shared commons where herdsmen graze their cattle to illustrate the tension between group and self-interest that characterizes so many social dilemmas. However, Hardin is not explicit that consumption can actually vary widely among herdsman, although later, when discussing population growth, he clarifies that “people vary”. People do indeed vary, and here we explore further the prevalence of asymmetrical contributions to the tragedy of the commons. We also provide several examples to demonstrate that asymmetries have been frequently underappreciated by conservation initiatives. Given that many of today’s major environmental problems, such as climate change, freshwater shortages, and overfishing, are problems of users or groups of users over-consuming common resources asymmetrically, we believe identifying patterns of consumption is a necessary first step in solving any social dilemma, and can help elucidate priority areas for conservation.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Article provided by MDPI, Open Access Journal in its journal Sustainability.

    Volume (Year): 5 (2013)
    Issue (Month): 3 (March)
    Pages: 1-13

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:5:y:2013:i:3:p:1036-1048:d:24049
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    in new window

    1. Janssen, Marco A. & Anderies, John M. & Cardenas, Juan-Camilo, 2011. "Head-enders as stationary bandits in asymmetric commons: Comparing irrigation experiments in the laboratory and the field," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(9), pages 1590-1598, July.
    2. Marco Janssen & John Anderies & Sanket Joshi, 2011. "Coordination and cooperation in asymmetric commons dilemmas," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 14(4), pages 547-566, November.
    3. Elinor Ostrom & Roy Gardner, 1993. "Coping with Asymmetries in the Commons: Self-Governing Irrigation Systems Can Work," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(4), pages 93-112, Fall.
    4. Froese, Rainer & Proelss, Alexander, 2012. "Evaluation and legal assessment of certified seafood," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(6), pages 1284-1289.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:5:y:2013:i:3:p:1036-1048:d:24049. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (XML Conversion Team)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.