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The sustainability of informal property rights in common property resources



Private ownership is often seen as a solution to prevent the overexploitation of natural resources. If an individual has a secure right to harvest a limited amount of a resource, the incentive to rush on it at the expense of others is eliminated. This solution has been implemented in the form of individual transferable quotas by management authorities during the last twenty years, especially in marine fisheries. However, individual rights on harvested quantities do not only appear in a top-down manner, imposed by governmental authorities. In many common-property situations, individual rights emerge and sustain at the community-level as a result of the decentralized actions of local resource users. Such informal community-based resource management is particularly fundamental in developing countries since their formal institutions usually lack the capacity to enforce efficient management rules. We propose an evolutionary model to account for the sustainability of informal systems of property rights, and discuss the conditions which enable more effective resource conservation

Topics: common resources, imitation behavior, property rights, social norms, evolutionary games JEL, C73, Q20
Year: 2011
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