Handbook on Experimental Economics and the Environment
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Handbook on Experimental Economics and the Environment

Edited by John A. List and Michael K. Price

Laboratory and field experiments have grown significantly in prominence over the past decade. The experimental method provides randomization in key variables therefore permitting a deeper understanding of important economic phenomena. This path-breaking volume provides a valuable collection of experimental work within the area of environmental and resource economics and showcases how laboratory and field experiments can be used for both positive and normative purposes.
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Chapter 12: Does government regulation complement existing community efforts to support cooperation? Evidence from field experiments in Colombia

Maria Claudia Lopez, James J. Murphy, John M. Spraggon and John K. Stranlund


In 2003, the Consejo Comunitario of Bahia Malaga (a community on the Pacific Coast of Colombia) collectively decided to stop harvesting a mollusk called piangua for three months each year. The idea was promoted by the community leaders and harvesters in order to preserve the piangua upon which community members rely for subsistence. During these months, the community exerted what they called social control to enforce the restriction. Because the Pacific Coast of Colombia is considered a hot spot of biodiversity, the sustainable management of natural resources in the region is a priority for local and federal governments, as well as international agencies. Government agencies decided to observe the harvest restrictions, but not intervene. Instead, the agencies gave the community an opportunity to self-regulate before deciding whether government intervention was warranted. There is much empirical evidence that many such communities are able to manage local natural resources more effectively than standard economic theory predicts.

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