Review of Behavioral Economics > Vol 7 > Issue 3

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

Klarizze Puzon, Osaka University, Japan, Marc Willinger, University of Montpellier, France,
Suggested Citation
Klarizze Puzon and Marc Willinger (2020), "Can Common Ownership Prevent the Tragedy of the Commons? An Experimental Investigation", Review of Behavioral Economics: Vol. 7: No. 3, pp 271-298.

Publication Date: 10 Aug 2020
© 2020 K. Puzon and M. Willinger
Behavioral Economics,  Experimental Economics,  Collective action,  Voting behavior
JEL Codes: C90D72P48D02
Natural resourcesvotingcommon ownershipexperiment


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In this article:
1. Introduction
2. Theoretical Framework
3. Experimental Design
4. Results
5. Conclusion
Appendix 1: Ordered Logit Regression for Protection Levels
Appendix 2: Instructions (Translated from French) for the Majority Treatment (Abundance)


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 exogenous (no-one participates). We also vary the initial level of the resource: scarce or abundant. We establish the following results. First, we find that the voting institution provides more frequent protection and leads to higher protection levels than the dictatorial institution. In addition, higher protection tends to temper rent seeking for the unprotected fraction of the resource for both institutions. Second, rent-seeking intensifies after a resource boom, but this effect is non-significant under the vote institution. Finally, rent-seeking is larger when the level of the resource is high, but this tendency is sharply reduced under the vote institution.