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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2019

Extraction Behaviour and Income Inequalities Resulting from a Common Pool Resource Exploitation

Owusu, Kwabena A.; Kulesz, Micaela M.; Merico, Agostino


Using an experimental approach, we investigate income distribution among heterogeneous subjects exploiting a Common Pool Resource (CPR). The CPR experiments are conducted in continuous time and under different treatments, including combinations of communication and monitoring. While many studies have focused on how real-life income inequality affects cooperation and resource use among groups, here we examine the relationship between individuals' cooperative traits, harvest inequalities, and institutional arrangements. We found that: (1) When combined with monitoring, communication decreases harvest inequalitythat is, harvest is more equally distributed among individuals in all treatments; and (2) the cooperative trait of individuals significantly predicts harvest inequality. The relative proportion of non-cooperators and cooperators (i.e., the cooperative dependency ratio) drives the within-session harvest distributionas the cooperative dependency ration increases, the income distribution becomes increasingly unequal, leading to a downward spiral of resource overexploitation and scarcity. Finally, our results suggest that harvest and income inequalities are contingent to resource abundance, because under this regime, non-cooperators exert the greatest amount effortthus leading to resource scarcity and income inequalities.


CPR; cooperative dependency ratio; distributional preferences; continuous time; renewable resource; artisanal fishery

Published in

2019, Volume: 11, number: 2, article number: 536
Publisher: MDPI

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG10 Reduced inequalities

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