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A Free Lunch in the Commons

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  • Matthew J. Kotchen
  • Stephen W. Salant

Abstract

We derive conditions under which cost-increasing measures - consistent with either regulatory constraints or fully expropriated taxes - can increase the profits of all agents active within a common-pool resource. This somewhat counterintuitive result is possible regardless of whether price is exogenously fixed or endogenously determined. Consumers are made no worse-off and, in the case of an endogenous price, can be made strictly better-off. The results simply require that total revenue be decreasing and convex in aggregate effort, which is an entirely reasonable condition, as we demonstrate in the context of a renewable natural resource. We also show that our results are robust to heterogeneity of agents and, under certain conditions, to costless entry and exit. Finally, we generalize the analysis to show its relation to earlier work on the effects of raising costs in a model of Cournot oligopoly.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthew J. Kotchen & Stephen W. Salant, 2009. "A Free Lunch in the Commons," NBER Working Papers 15086, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15086
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Clémence Christin & Jean-Philippe Nicolai & Jerome Pouyet, 2013. "Pollution Permits, Imperfect Competition and Abatement Technologies," CER-ETH Economics working paper series 13/186, CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research (CER-ETH) at ETH Zurich.
    2. François Libois, 2016. "Success and Failure of Communities Managing Natural Resources:Static and Dynamic Inefficiencies," Working Papers 1601, University of Namur, Department of Economics.
    3. McQuade, Timothy & Salant, Stephen W. & Winfree, Jason, 2009. "Markets with untraceable goods of unknown quality: a market failure exacerbated by globalization," MPRA Paper 21874, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Olivier Bos & Béatrice Roussillon & Paul Schweinzer, 2016. "Agreeing on Efficient Emissions Reduction," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 118(4), pages 785-815, October.
    5. Ansink, Erik & Bouma, Jetske, 2013. "Effective support for community resource management," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 94-103.
    6. Madani, Kaveh & Dinar, Ariel, 2012. "Non-cooperative institutions for sustainable common pool resource management: Application to groundwater," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 34-45.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation

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