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The cultural evolution of collective property rights

New simulation model shows that the evolution of sustainable institutions critically depends on clearly defined and enforced access rights

Common pool resources comprise around 65 percent of Earth's surface and vast tracts of the ocean. While examples of successful governance of these resources exist, the circumstances and mechanisms behind their development have remained unclear. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology have developed a simulation model to examine the emergence, stability and temporal dynamics of collective property rights. Their study shows that when resource conflicts exist between groups, establishing and enforcing 'access rights' becomes an essential prerequisite for evolving sustainable 'use rights'. These access rights may enable a special kind of evolution called ‘cultural group selection’ that facilitates the evolution of sustainable use rights despite their costs to individuals.

© Omar Ameri Machano