The Determinants of Territorial Property Rights in a Spatial Commons Experiment
67 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2014 Last revised: 11 Dec 2014
Date Written: November 18, 2014
We study the conditions under which effective institutions of commons management emerge in a context-rich spatiotemporal environment. We build an experiment that allows individuals to make costly commitments to specialize in the collection of certain types of a heterogeneous common resource with stochastic but independent replenishment rates. We demonstrate that the presence of costly specialization can facilitate the emergence of effective commons-management institutions. In particular, when specialization is costly, groups establish stronger territorial property rights, and the establishment of these rights allows groups to avoid the tragedy of the commons.
Keywords: institutions, commons management
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