tragedy of the commons

Elinor Ostrom
From The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, Second Edition, 2008
Edited by Steven N. Durlauf and Lawrence E. Blume
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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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How to cite this article

Ostrom, Elinor. "tragedy of the commons." The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics. Second Edition. Eds. Steven N. Durlauf and Lawrence E. Blume. Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics Online. Palgrave Macmillan. 28 November 2014 <http://www.dictionaryofeconomics.com/article?id=pde2008_T000193> doi:10.1057/9780230226203.1729

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