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The Tragedy of the Commons?

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  • Dutta, Prajit K
  • Sundaram, Rangarajan K

Abstract

We provide a complete characterization of the set of Markov-Perfect Equilibrium (MPE) of dynamic common-property resource games a la Levhari and Mirman (1980). We find that all MPE of such games exhibit remarkably regular dynamic behavior. Surprisingly, however, and despite their memoryless nature, MPE need not result in a "tragedy of the commons", i.e., overexploitation of the resource relative to the first-best solutions. We show through an example that MPE could, in fact, lead to the reverse phenomenon of underexploitation of the resource. Nonetheless, we demonstrate that, in payoff space, MPE are always suboptimal.

Suggested Citation

  • Dutta, Prajit K & Sundaram, Rangarajan K, 1993. "The Tragedy of the Commons?," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 3(3), pages 413-426, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:joecth:v:3:y:1993:i:3:p:413-26
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