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Partial enclosure of the commons

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  • Christopher Costello
  • Nicolas Quérou
  • Agnes Tomini

Abstract

We examine the efficiency, distributional, and environmental consequences of assigning spatial property rights to part of a spatially-connected natural resource, a situation which we refer to as partial enclosure of the commons. The model reflects on a large class of institutions and natural resources for which complete enclosure by a sole owner may be desirable, but is often institutionally impractical. When a sole owner is granted ownership of only a fraction of the spatial domain of the resource and the remainder of the resource is competed for by an open access fringe, interesting spatial externalities arise. We obtain sharp analytical results regarding partial enclosure of the commons including: (1) While second best, it always improves welfare relative to no property rights, (2) all resource users are made better off, (3) positive rents arise in the open access area, and the resource will maintain higher abundance. Under spatial heterogeneity, we also character- ize spatial regions that are ideal candidates for partial enclosure - typically, society should seek to enclose those patches with high ecological productivity and high self-retention, but whether high economic parameters promote or relegate a patch may depend on one’s objective. These results help inform a burgeoning trend around the world to partially enclose the commons.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher Costello & Nicolas Quérou & Agnes Tomini, 2013. "Partial enclosure of the commons," Working Papers 13-07, LAMETA, Universitiy of Montpellier, revised Apr 2013.
  • Handle: RePEc:lam:wpaper:13-07
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Fabbri, G. & Faggian, S. & Freni, G., 2018. "Spatial resource wars: A two region example," Working Papers 2018-04, Grenoble Applied Economics Laboratory (GAEL).
    2. Alexandre CROUTZET & Pierre LASSERRE, 2016. "Optimal Completeness of Property Rights on Renewable Resources in Presence of Market Power," Cahiers de recherche 10-2016, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
    3. Christopher Costello & Bruno Nkuiya & Nicolas Querou, 2017. "Extracting spatial resources under possible regime shift," Working Papers hal-01615939, HAL.
    4. Nicolas Quérou & Agnès Tomini, 2015. "Marine ecosystem considerations and second-best management," Working Papers 15-05, LAMETA, Universitiy of Montpellier, revised Mar 2015.
    5. Christopher Costello & Nicolas Querou & Agnès Tomini, 2014. "Spatial concessions with limited tenure," Post-Print hal-01123392, HAL.
    6. Hughes, Jonathan E. & Kaffine, Daniel, 2017. "When is increasing consumption of common property optimal? Sorting, congestion and entry in the commons," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 227-242.
    7. repec:eee:resene:v:49:y:2017:i:c:p:16-32 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods
    • H7 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation

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