Can Common Ownership Prevent the Tragedy of the Commons? An Experimental Investigation

CERE Working Paper, 2019:9

33 Pages Posted: 28 Jun 2019

See all articles by Klarizze Puzon

Klarizze Puzon

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) - Center for Environmental and Resource Economics (CERE)

Marc Willinger

University of Montpellier

Date Written: June 26, 2019

Abstract

We study experimentally a two-stage common pool resource game. In the first stage, selected members of the group determine the level of protection for the resource. The protected fraction of the resource is equally shared among group members. In the second stage, the unprotected fraction of the resource is competed for. We consider three institutions varying in the extent by which subjects participate in the first stage: vote (all group members participate), dictator (only one member decides), and outsider (no one participates). We also vary the initial level of the resource: scarce or abundant. We establish the following results. First, we find that voting provides more frequent protection and leads to higher protection levels than other institutions. Second, collective rent-seeking is larger when the level of the resource is high, but this tendency is sharply reduced in the presence of democratic institutions. Third, collective rent-seeking is negatively affected by the level of protection, but significantly so only when the highest protection level is implemented. These experimental results are stronger in the case of a resource boom than in the case of a resource bust.

Keywords: voting, commons, natural resources, property rights, experiments

JEL Classification: C90, D72, P48, D02

Suggested Citation

Puzon, Klarizze and Willinger, Marc, Can Common Ownership Prevent the Tragedy of the Commons? An Experimental Investigation (June 26, 2019). CERE Working Paper, 2019:9. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3410383 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3410383

Klarizze Puzon (Contact Author)

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) - Center for Environmental and Resource Economics (CERE) ( email )

Almas Allé 10
Umeå, 750 07
Sweden

Marc Willinger

University of Montpellier ( email )

163 rue Auguste Broussonnet
France

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