The tragedy of the commons in a violent world

Petros Sekeris

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    Earlier research has shown that the tragedy of the commons may be resolved by Folk theorems for dynamic games. In this article, we graft on a standard natural-resource exploitation game the possibility to appropriate the resource through violent means. Because conflict emerges endogenously as resources get depleted, the threat supporting the cooperative outcome is no longer subgame perfect, and thus credible. The unique equilibrium is such that players exploit noncooperatively the resource when it is abundant, and they revert to conflict when it becomes scarce. The players' utility is shown to be lower even if conflict wastes no resources.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)521-532
    Number of pages12
    JournalRAND Journal of Economics
    Issue number3
    Early online date25 Jul 2014
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2014


    • Tragedy of the Commons
    • Conflict
    • Dynamic Game


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