IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Cash for Cooperation? Payments for Ecosystem Services and Common Property Management in Mexico


  • Yanez-Pagans, Patricia


This paper analyzes whether monetary incentives modify cooperative behavior in activities that have been traditionally unpaid. We provide a simple theoretical framework and exploit variation over time in community access to Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) within Mexican common property communities to analyze whether payments increase work in forest protection activities, which are increasingly incentivized under PES, and also explore their effects on other community activities that remain unpaid. We find that cash incentives increase work, both in the intensive and extensive margins, in forest conservation activities; however, we claim that the framing of the incentive plays an important role in explaining cooperation in activities that remain unpaid. Our findings indicate that, as long as agents are exposed to sanctions resulting from deviant behavior and their actions are visible, lump-sum transfers without specfic work conditionalities can be more effective than wages to promote cooperation. Given the increased popularity of PES initiatives as tools to combat climate change, our findings are important not only for environmental conservation but also for the sustainability and welfare of common property communities.

Suggested Citation

  • Yanez-Pagans, Patricia, 2013. "Cash for Cooperation? Payments for Ecosystem Services and Common Property Management in Mexico," 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C. 151295, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea13:151295

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Assar Lindbeck & Sten Nyberg & Jörgen W. Weibull, 1999. "Social Norms and Economic Incentives in the Welfare State," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 1-35.
    2. Fehr, Ernst & Falk, Armin, 2002. "Psychological foundations of incentives," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(4-5), pages 687-724, May.
    3. Carpenter, Jeffrey & Myers, Caitlin Knowles, 2010. "Why volunteer? Evidence on the role of altruism, image, and incentives," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(11-12), pages 911-920, December.
    4. Simon Gachter & Ernst Fehr, 2000. "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 980-994, September.
    5. Emi Uchida & Scott Rozelle & Jintao Xu, 2009. "Conservation Payments, Liquidity Constraints, and Off-Farm Labor: Impact of the Grain-for-Green Program on Rural Households in China," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 91(1), pages 70-86.
    6. Edward P. Lazear, 2000. "Performance Pay and Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1346-1361, December.
    7. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2000. "Fairness, incentives, and contractual choices," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(4-6), pages 1057-1068, May.
    8. Cameron,A. Colin & Trivedi,Pravin K., 2008. "Microeconometrics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9787111235767, March.
    9. Jean Tirole & Roland Bénabou, 2006. "Incentives and Prosocial Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1652-1678, December.
    10. Alix-Garcia, Jennifer & Janvry, Alain de & Sadoulet, Elisabeth, 2005. "A Tale of Two Communities: Explaining Deforestation in Mexico," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 219-235, February.
    11. Muñoz-Piña, Carlos & Guevara, Alejandro & Torres, Juan Manuel & Braña, Josefina, 2008. "Paying for the hydrological services of Mexico's forests: Analysis, negotiations and results," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(4), pages 725-736, May.
    12. Dan Ariely & Anat Bracha & Stephan Meier, 2009. "Doing Good or Doing Well? Image Motivation and Monetary Incentives in Behaving Prosocially," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 544-555, March.
    13. Vatn, Arild, 2010. "An institutional analysis of payments for environmental services," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(6), pages 1245-1252, April.
    14. repec:spr:portec:v:1:y:2002:i:2:d:10.1007_s10258-002-0010-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Vatn, Arild, 2009. "Cooperative behavior and institutions," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 188-196, January.
    16. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-477, June.
    17. Huck, Steffen & Kübler, Dorothea & Weibull, Jörgen, 2001. "Social Norms and Optimal Incentives in Firms," Working Paper Series 565, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    18. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
    19. Richard Blundell & Monica Costa Dias, 2009. "Alternative Approaches to Evaluation in Empirical Microeconomics," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(3).
    20. George A. Akerlof, 1980. "A Theory of Social Custom, of which Unemployment may be One Consequence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 94(4), pages 749-775.
    21. Rand, David Gertler & Dreber, Anna & Fudenberg, Drew & Ellingson, Tore & Nowak, Martin A., 2009. "Positive Interactions Promote Public Cooperation," Scholarly Articles 3804483, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    22. Kerr, John & Vardhan, Mamta & Jindal, Rohit, 2012. "Prosocial behavior and incentives: Evidence from field experiments in rural Mexico and Tanzania," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 220-227.
    23. Wunder, Sven & Engel, Stefanie & Pagiola, Stefano, 2008. "Taking stock: A comparative analysis of payments for environmental services programs in developed and developing countries," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(4), pages 834-852, May.
    24. Sommerville, Matthew & Jones, Julia P.G. & Rahajaharison, Michael & Milner-Gulland, E.J., 2010. "The role of fairness and benefit distribution in community-based Payment for Environmental Services interventions: A case study from Menabe, Madagascar," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(6), pages 1262-1271, April.
    25. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1991. "Multitask Principal-Agent Analyses: Incentive Contracts, Asset Ownership, and Job Design," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(0), pages 24-52, Special I.
    26. Frey, Bruno S & Jegen, Reto, 2001. " Motivation Crowding Theory," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(5), pages 589-611, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Payments for Ecosystem Services; Cooperative Behavior; Common Property Management; Incentive Framing; Farm Management; Land Economics/Use;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ags:aaea13:151295. 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: (AgEcon Search). General contact details of provider: .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.