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Does scarcity exacerbate the tragedy of the commons? Evidence from fishers’ experimental responses

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  • Maldonado, Jorge Higinio
  • Moreno-Sanchez, Rocio del Pilar

Abstract

Economic Experimental Games (EEG) have challenged the theoretical prediction showing that individuals balance own and collective interests when making decisions that deviate away from suboptimal Nash equilibrium. However, few studies have analyzed whether these deviations from Nash equilibrium towards social optimum are affected as the stock of resource changes. Performing EEG with real fishers we test the hypothesis that behavior of participants –measured as relative deviations from Nash equilibrium- differs under a situation of abundance versus a situation of scarcity. The design of our EEG is based on a profit maximization model that incorporates intertemporal effects of aggregated extraction. Our findings show that in a situation of scarcity, players over extract the resource making decisions above the Nash equilibrium, obtaining less profit, mining the others-regarding interest, and exacerbating the tragedy of the commons. This result challenges previous general findings from the EEG literature. When individuals face abundance of the resource, however, they deviate downward from the individualistic and myopic behavior prediction. This phenomenon of private inefficient over exploitation is corrected when management strategies are introduced in the game, which underlines the importance of institutions.

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  • Maldonado, Jorge Higinio & Moreno-Sanchez, Rocio del Pilar, 2008. "Does scarcity exacerbate the tragedy of the commons? Evidence from fishers’ experimental responses," 2008 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2008, Orlando, Florida 6528, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea08:6528
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Cardenas, Juan-Camilo, 2004. "Norms from outside and from inside: an experimental analysis on the governance of local ecosystems," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(3-4), pages 229-241, June.
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    4. Pauly, D., 1990. "On Malthusian overfishing," Naga, The WorldFish Center, vol. 13(1), pages 3-4.
    5. Keser, Claudia, 1996. "Voluntary contributions to a public good when partial contribution is a dominant strategy," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 359-366, March.
    6. Herr, Andrew & Gardner, Roy & Walker, James M., 1997. "An Experimental Study of Time-Independent and Time-Dependent Externalities in the Commons," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 77-96, April.
    7. Gillet, Joris & Schram, Arthur & Sonnemans, Joep, 2009. "The tragedy of the commons revisited: The importance of group decision-making," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(5-6), pages 785-797, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Adriana Bernal Escobar & Rafael Cuervo & Gonzalo Pinzón Trujillo & Jorge H. Maldonado., 2013. "Derretimiento y Retroceso Glaciar: Entendiendo la Percepción de los Hogares Agrícolas que se Enfrentan a los Desafíos del Cambio Climático," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 010679, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    2. Bernal-Escobar, Adriana & Cuervo-Sánchez, Rafael & Pinzon-Trujillo, Gonzalo & Maldonado, Jorge Higinio, 2013. "Glacier Melting and Retreat: Understanding the Perception of Agricultural Households That Face the Challenges of Climate Change," 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C. 149005, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    3. Bernal-Escobar, Adriana & Cuervo, Rafael & Pinzon, Gonzalo & Higinio, Jorge, 2013. "Derretimiento y Retroceso Glaciar: Entendiendo la Percepción de los Hogares Agrícolas que se Enfrentan a los Desafíos del Cambio Climático," Documentos CEDE Series 161358, Universidad de Los Andes, Economics Department.
    4. Federico G. Topolansky Barbe & Carol Yongmei Zhang & Magdalena M. Gonzalez Triay & Clemence Mzendah, 2016. "Does the Conventional Paradigm help to Analyze the Competitiveness of an Industry?," International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, Human Resource Management Academic Research Society, International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, vol. 6(9), pages 68-84, September.
    5. Varghese, Shalet Korattukudy & Veettil, Prakashan Chellattan & Speelman, Stijn & Buysse, Jeroen & Van Huylenbroeck, Guido, 2013. "Estimating the causal effect of water scarcity on the groundwater use efficiency of rice farming in South India," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 55-64.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Resource /Energy Economics and Policy;

    JEL classification:

    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • O54 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Latin America; Caribbean
    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development
    • Q22 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Fishery
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games

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