Ecological Influences on Informal Property Rights
44 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2016
Date Written: July 4, 2016
This paper explores the possibility that informal property right systems evolve unique features as a function of the characteristics of the resources over which they are established. We develop a model to show how the emergent character of informal property rights in land varies with the distribution and renewability of resources. Simulations suggest that property will be most secure when resources are renewable and evenly distributed and least secure when resources are renewable but unevenly distributed. We test the predictions of the simulations in the laboratory with cash-motivated human subjects. The results confirm that informal property rights adapt to resource characteristics in a manner largely consistent with the model.
Keywords: property rights, exhaustible resources, renewable resources, simulation, experimental economics, institutions
JEL Classification: B41, C63, C92, D83, Q2, Q3
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