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Tragedy of the Commons

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Type: Book Chapter
Author: Ostrom, Elinor
Book Title: The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Location: New York
Date: 2008
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/5887
Sector: Social Organization
Subject(s): collective action
social dilemmas
tragedy of the commons
common pool resources
free riding
open access
Abstract: "The 'tragedy of the commons' arises when it is difficult and costly to exclude potential users from common-pool resources that yield finite flows of benefits, as a result of which those resources will be exhausted by rational, utility-maximizing individuals rather than conserved for the benefit of all. Pessimism about the possibility of users voluntarily cooperating to prevent overuse has led to widespread central control of common-pool resources. But such control has itself frequently resulted in resource overuse. In practice, especially where they can communicate, users often develop rules that limit resource use and conserve resources."

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