Department of Primatology
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Deutscher Platz 6
phone: +49 (341) 3550 - 200
fax: +49 (341) 3550 - 299
FOREST DEPENDENCY, RESOURCE SCARCITY AND COOPERATIVE BEHAVIOUR IN COMMONS DILEMMA: EVIDENCE FROM SURVEY AND FRAMED FIELD EXPERIMENT
Economic experiments have established that the behavior of individuals in commons dilemma deviates from myopic prediction. Individuals act less selfishly than predicted by myopic equilibrium. However, the influence of the commons scarcity on the behavior of the individuals in commons dilemma has not been adequately addressed in the literature. Further, experimental evidence on the role of resource scarcity on the effectiveness of institutions geared towards solving the commons dilemma is scant. Hence, the study provides experimental evidence on the effect of commons scarcity on the cooperative behavior of commons users using dynamic lab-in-the-field experiments framed around the extraction of trees from a jointly owned forest. The study was conducted in rural Ethiopia. The results show that resource scarcity significantly obstructs cooperation. Subjects who face exogenous resource scarcity were less cooperative than those facing more abundant commons condition. Moreover, endogenous scarcity (i.e. scarcity unfolding over the time of the experiment as the resource dwindles) has different behavioural consequences than initial exogenous scarcity due to an inherent learning effect. The study also tested the effect of sanctions on cooperative behavior and especially how these sanctions were implemented. The results show that gaining legitimacy through election increases cooperation independent of whether people elect a sanction or not.
Commons dilemma, cooperation, resource scarcity, sanctions, forest dependency, Ethiopia