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Cooperativeness and Impatience in the Tragedy of the Commons


Fehr, Ernst; Leibbrandt, Andreas (2008). Cooperativeness and Impatience in the Tragedy of the Commons. Working paper series / Institute for Empirical Research in Economics No. 378, University of Zurich.

Abstract

This paper examines the role of other-regarding and time preferences for ncooperation in the field. We study the preferences of fishermen whose main, and often only, nsource of income stems from using a common pool resource (CPR). The exploitation of a nCPR involves a negative interpersonal and inter-temporal externality because individuals who nexploit the CPR reduce the current and the future yield for both others and themselves. nAccordingly, economic theory predicts that more cooperative and more patient individuals nshould be less likely to exploit the CPR. Our data supports this prediction because fishermen nwho exhibit a higher propensity for cooperation in a laboratory public goods experiment, and nthose who show more patience in a laboratory time preference experiment, exploit the fishing ngrounds less in their daily lives. Moreover, because the laboratory public goods game exhibits nno inter-temporal spillovers, measured time preferences should not predict cooperative nbehavior in the laboratory. This prediction is also borne out by our data. Thus, laboratory npreference measures are useful to capture important dimensions of field behavior.

Abstract

This paper examines the role of other-regarding and time preferences for ncooperation in the field. We study the preferences of fishermen whose main, and often only, nsource of income stems from using a common pool resource (CPR). The exploitation of a nCPR involves a negative interpersonal and inter-temporal externality because individuals who nexploit the CPR reduce the current and the future yield for both others and themselves. nAccordingly, economic theory predicts that more cooperative and more patient individuals nshould be less likely to exploit the CPR. Our data supports this prediction because fishermen nwho exhibit a higher propensity for cooperation in a laboratory public goods experiment, and nthose who show more patience in a laboratory time preference experiment, exploit the fishing ngrounds less in their daily lives. Moreover, because the laboratory public goods game exhibits nno inter-temporal spillovers, measured time preferences should not predict cooperative nbehavior in the laboratory. This prediction is also borne out by our data. Thus, laboratory npreference measures are useful to capture important dimensions of field behavior.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Working Paper Series > Institute for Empirical Research in Economics (former)
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:July 2008
Deposited On:29 Nov 2011 22:47
Last Modified:12 Aug 2017 13:05
Series Name:Working paper series / Institute for Empirical Research in Economics
ISSN:1424-0459
Official URL:http://www.econ.uzh.ch/wp.html

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