The tragedy of the commons: Twenty-two years later

TitleThe tragedy of the commons: Twenty-two years later
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1990
AuthorsFeeny, D, Berkes, F, McCay, BJ, Acheson, JM
JournalHuman Ecology
Date PublishedMarch 1990
Keywordsco-management; common property; fisheries; forestry; grazing lands; sustainable development; water resources; wildlife

Hardin's Tragedy of the Commons model predicts the eventual overexploitation or degradation of all resources used in common. Given this unambiguous prediction, a surprising number of cases exist in which users have been able to restrict access to the resource and establish rules among themselves for its sustainable use. To assess the evidence, we first define common-property resources and present a taxonomy of property-rights regimes in which such resources may be held. Evidence accumulated over the last twenty-two years indicates that private, state, andcommunal property are all potentially viable resource management options. A more complete theory than Hardin's should incorporate institutional arrangements and cultural factors to provide for better analysis and prediction. (author)


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Short TitleThe Tragedy of the Commons