Cooperativeness and Impatience in the Tragedy of the Commons

IEW Working Paper No. 378

25 Pages Posted: 3 Sep 2008

See all articles by Ernst Fehr

Ernst Fehr

University of Zurich - Department of Economics

Andreas Leibbrandt

University of Zurich - Institute for Empirical Research in Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 2008

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Cooperation, common pool resource, experiments, generalizability, methodology

JEL Classification: B4, C9, D8, O1

Suggested Citation

Fehr, Ernst and Leibbrandt, Andreas, Cooperativeness and Impatience in the Tragedy of the Commons (July 2008). IEW Working Paper No. 378. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1262202 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1262202

Ernst Fehr (Contact Author)

University of Zurich - Department of Economics ( email )

Blümlisalpstrasse 10
Zuerich, 8006
Switzerland
+41 1 634 3709 (Phone)
+41 1 634 4907 (Fax)

Andreas Leibbrandt

University of Zurich - Institute for Empirical Research in Economics ( email )

Zuerich, 8006
Switzerland

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
130
Abstract Views
1,196
rank
100,562
PlumX Metrics