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Overexploitation of Renewable Resources by Ancient Societies and the Role of Sunk-Cost Effects

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dc.contributor.author Janssen, Marco A. en_US
dc.contributor.author Scheffer, Marten en_US
dc.date.accessioned 2009-07-31T14:51:55Z
dc.date.available 2009-07-31T14:51:55Z
dc.date.issued 2004 en_US
dc.date.submitted 2009-01-29 en_US
dc.date.submitted 2009-01-29 en_US
dc.identifier.uri https://hdl.handle.net/10535/2617
dc.description.abstract "One of the most persistent mysteries in the history of humankind is the collapse of ancient societies. It is puzzling that societies that achieved such high levels of development disappeared so suddenly. It has been argued that overexploitation of environmental resources played a role in the collapse of such societies. In this paper, we propose an explanation why overexploitation seems more common in ancient societies that built larger structures. This explanation is based on the well-studied sunk-cost effect in human decision making: decisions are often based on past investments rather than expected future returns. This leads to an unwillingness to abandon something (e. g., a settlement) if a great deal has been invested in it, even if future prospects are dim. Empirical study suggests that there are indications of sunk-cost effects in the histories of several ancient societies. A stylized model is used to illustrate under which conditions societal collapse may be expected. Finally, we discuss the consequences of these insights for current societies." en_US
dc.subject history--ancient en_US
dc.subject resilience en_US
dc.subject complexity en_US
dc.subject decision making--economics en_US
dc.subject harvesting--models en_US
dc.subject consumption--models en_US
dc.subject Workshop en_US
dc.title Overexploitation of Renewable Resources by Ancient Societies and the Role of Sunk-Cost Effects en_US
dc.type Journal Article en_US
dc.type.published published en_US
dc.subject.sector Theory en_US
dc.subject.sector History en_US
dc.identifier.citationjournal Ecology and Society en_US
dc.identifier.citationvolume 9 en_US
dc.identifier.citationnumber 1 en_US
dc.identifier.citationmonth June en_US

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