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The Determinants of Territorial Property Rights in a Spatial Commons Experiment

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Document pages: 67 pages

Abstract: We study the conditions under which effective institutions of commons management emerge in a context-rich spatiotemporal environment. We build an experiment that allows individuals to make costly commitments to specialize in the collection of certain types of a heterogeneous common resource with stochastic but independent replenishment rates. We demonstrate that the presence of costly specialization can facilitate the emergence of effective commons-management institutions. In particular, when specialization is costly, groups establish stronger territorial property rights, and the establishment of these rights allows groups to avoid the tragedy of the commons.

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