Environmental and Resource Economics

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 529–550

Environmental versus Human-Induced Scarcity in the Commons: Do They Trigger the Same Response?

  • Nuria Osés-Eraso
  • Frederic Udina
  • Montserrat Viladrich-Grau

DOI: 10.1007/s10640-007-9168-6

Cite this article as:
Osés-Eraso, N., Udina, F. & Viladrich-Grau, M. Environ Resource Econ (2008) 40: 529. doi:10.1007/s10640-007-9168-6


We study appropriation strategies in common pool resources where extinction is a credible threat. Here we present an experimental study of the appropriation of common pool resources in a dynamic setting where resource availability depends on the initial environmental characteristics of the common resource and on human-induced resource depletion due to users’ appropriation patterns. Our results show that initial resource scarcity limits appropriation by inducing an initial caution among users that persists throughout of the game. Additionally, we find that subjects restrain their appropriation strategies when scarcity increases. However, this concern for resource scarcity is not enough to prevent resource depletion. Agents do not counteract the previous rounds’ appropriation strategies but follow the appropriation trend. High appropriation levels are followed by higher appropriation strategies, thus promoting the well known tragedy of the commons. Often concern for resource preservation is not great enough to limit appropriation.


Common property resource Concern for resource preservation Early extinction Endogenous and exogenous scarcity Experimental design 

Mathematics Subject Classification (2000)

C91 C92 H41 D64 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nuria Osés-Eraso
    • 1
    • 2
  • Frederic Udina
    • 3
  • Montserrat Viladrich-Grau
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversidad Pública de NavarraPamplonaSpain
  2. 2.Unidad de Economia Ambiental (Universidad del País Vasco)BilbaoSpain
  3. 3.Department of Economics and BusinessUniversitat Pompeu FabraBarcelonaSpain
  4. 4.Department of Business Administration (AEGERN)Universitat de Lleida, ETSEALleidaSpain

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