IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Cooperativeness and Impatience in the Tragedy of the Commons

  • Fehr, Ernst


    (University of Zurich)

  • Leibbrandt, Andreas


    (University of Zurich)

This paper examines the role of other-regarding and time preferences for cooperation in the field. We study the preferences of fishermen whose main, and often only, source of income stems from using a common pool resource (CPR). The exploitation of a CPR involves a negative interpersonal and inter-temporal externality because individuals who exploit the CPR reduce the current and the future yield for both others and themselves. Accordingly, economic theory predicts that more cooperative and more patient individuals should be less likely to exploit the CPR. Our data supports this prediction because fishermen who exhibit a higher propensity for cooperation in a laboratory public goods experiment, and those who show more patience in a laboratory time preference experiment, exploit the fishing grounds less in their daily lives. Moreover, because the laboratory public goods game exhibits no inter-temporal spillovers, measured time preferences should not predict cooperative behavior in the laboratory. This prediction is also borne out by our data. Thus, laboratory preference measures are useful to capture important dimensions of field behavior.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3625.

in new window

Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Public Economics, 2011, 95 (9-10), 1144-1155
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3625
Contact details of provider: Postal: IZA, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany
Phone: +49 228 3894 223
Fax: +49 228 3894 180
Web page:

Order Information: Postal: IZA, Margard Ody, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. M. Rabin, 2001. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Levine's Working Paper Archive 511, David K. Levine.
  2. Farzin, Y Hossein, 1984. "The Effect of the Discount Rate on Depletion of Exhaustible Resources," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(5), pages 841-51, October.
  3. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal About the Real World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 153-174, Spring.
  4. Carpenter, Jeffrey P. & Seki, Erika, 2005. "Do Social Preferences Increase Productivity? Field Experimental Evidence from Fishermen in Toyama Bay," IZA Discussion Papers 1697, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. repec:oup:qjecon:v:114:y:1999:i:3:p:817-868 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Bruno S. Frey & Stephan Meier, . "Social Comparisons and Pro-social Behavior - Testing ‘Conditional Cooperation’ in a Field Experiment," IEW - Working Papers 162, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  7. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1998. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," CEPR Discussion Papers 1812, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Charness, Gary & Rabin, Matthew, 2001. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt4qz9k8vg, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  9. Dean S. Karlan, 2005. "Using Experimental Economics to Measure Social Capital And Predict Financial Decisions," Working Papers 909, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  10. John List, 2006. "The behavioralist meets the market: Measuring social preferences and reputation effects in actual transactions," Natural Field Experiments 00300, The Field Experiments Website.
  11. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  12. Rachel T. A. Croson, 2007. "Theories Of Commitment, Altruism And Reciprocity: Evidence From Linear Public Goods Games," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 45(2), pages 199-216, 04.
  13. repec:oup:restud:v:59:y:1992:i:1:p:63-80 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. repec:oup:qjecon:v:121:y:2006:i:2:p:635-672 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Stephan Meier & Charles Sprenger, 2007. "Impatience and credit behavior: evidence from a field experiment," Working Papers 07-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  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 464-77, June.
  17. Uri Benzion & Amnon Rapoport & Joseph Yagil, 1989. "Discount Rates Inferred from Decisions: An Experimental Study," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 35(3), pages 270-284, March.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3625. 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: (Mark Fallak)

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.