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The Ecological and Civil Mainsprings of Property: An Experimental Economic History of Whalers’ Rules of Capture

  • Bart J. Wilson

    ()

    (Economic Science Institute, Chapman University)

  • Taylor Jaworski

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Arizona)

  • Karl Schurter

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Virginia)

  • Andrew Smyth

    ()

    (Department of Economics, Florida State University)

This paper uses a laboratory experiment to probe the proposition that property emerges anarchically out of social custom. We test the hypothesis that whalers in the 18th and 19th century developed rules of conduct that minimized the sum of the transaction and production costs of capturing their prey, the primary implication being that different ecological conditions lead to different rules of capture. Holding everything else constant, we find that simply imposing two different types of prey is insufficient to observe two different rules of capture. Another factor is essential, namely that the members of the community are civil-minded.

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File URL: http://www.chapman.edu/ESI/wp/Wilson_Whaling.pdf
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Paper provided by Chapman University, Economic Science Institute in its series Working Papers with number 10-12.

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Length: 57 pages
Date of creation: May 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:chu:wpaper:10-12
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  1. Mary L. Rigdon & Kevin A. McCabe & Vernon L. Smith, 2007. "Sustaining Cooperation in Trust Games," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(522), pages 991-1007, 07.
  2. Taylor Jaworski & Bart J. Wilson, 2009. "Go West Young Man: Self-selection and Endogenous Property Rights," Working Papers 09-02, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
  3. Anna Gunnthorsdottir & Daniel Houser & Kevin McCabe & Holly Ameden, 2004. "Disposition, History and Contributions in Public Goods Experiments," Experimental 0401001, EconWPA.
  4. Daniel Houser & David Reiley & Michael Urbancic, 2004. "Checking Out Temptation: An Natural Experiment with Purchases at the Grocery Register," Working Papers 1001, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science, revised Nov 2008.
  5. Sean Crockett & VernonL. Smith & BartJ. Wilson, 2009. "Exchange and Specialisation as a Discovery Process," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(539), pages 1162-1188, 07.
  6. Hirshleifer, Jack, 1995. "Anarchy and Its Breakdown," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(1), pages 26-52, February.
  7. David J. Cooper & John H. Kagel, 2005. "Are Two Heads Better Than One? Team versus Individual Play in Signaling Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 477-509, June.
  8. Kimbrough, Erik O. & Smith, Vernon L. & Wilson, Bart J., 2010. "Exchange, theft, and the social formation of property," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 74(3), pages 206-229, June.
  9. Clay, Karen & Wright, Gavin, 2005. "Order without law? Property rights during the California gold rush," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 155-183, April.
  10. Umbeck, John, 1977. "The California gold rush: A study of emerging property rights," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 197-226, July.
  11. Roberto A. Weber, 2006. "Managing Growth to Achieve Efficient Coordination in Large Groups," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 114-126, March.
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