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Appropriating the Commons - A Theoretical Explanation

  • Falk, Armin
  • Fehr, Ernst
  • Fischbacher, Urs

In this Paper we show that a simple model of fairness preferences explains major experimental regularities of common pool resource (CPR) experiments. The evidence indicates that in standard CPR games without communication and without sanctioning possibilities inefficient excess appropriation is the rule. When communication or informal sanctions are available, however, appropriation behaviour is more efficient. Our analysis shows that these regularities arise naturally when a fraction of the subjects exhibits reciprocal preferences.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 2925.

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Date of creation: Aug 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:2925
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  1. Armin Falk & Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, . "Testing Theories of Fairness - Intentions Matter," IEW - Working Papers 063, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  2. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, . "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocitys," IEW - Working Papers 040, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  3. Fehr, Ernst & Kirchsteiger, George & Riedl, Arno, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(2), pages 437-59, May.
  4. Armin Falk & Urs Fischbacher, 2001. "A Theory of Reciprocity," CESifo Working Paper Series 457, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Guth, Werner & Schmittberger, Rolf & Schwarze, Bernd, 1982. "An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 367-388, December.
  6. Walker, James M. & Gardner, Roy & Ostrom, Elinor, 1990. "Rent dissipation in a limited-access common-pool resource: Experimental evidence," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 203-211, November.
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