Rational depletion of natural resources
- Variable relationship:
Acheson (2006) suggests that resource users may rationally deplete natural resource stocks (Commons Condition) when resources have low levels of productivity (Productivity) and users are not dependent on a particular instance of a resource (i.e. a particular environmental commons) and can invest in other income generating activities (Livelihood Alternatives).
First, Clark (1973: 630) has advanced the most widely known explanation of the failure of private property to conserve resources. He argues that “[a] corporate owner of property rights in a biological resource might actually prefer extermination to conservation, on the basis of maximization of profits.” This occurs when the growth rate of the resource is less than the discount rate. It does not make sense to borrow money from the bank at 8% interest to invest in a resource that increases in value at only 4% per year. This would not be a rational investment. Under these circumstances, it would only be sensible to deplete the resource as fast as possible and invest the money where it will give higher returns." (Acheson 2006).
- Scientific Field
- Component Type(s)
- Natural Resource Unit, Natural Resource System
|Livelihood alternatives||Proximate independent variable||When resource users have alternative sources of livelihood benefits they are more likely to face incentives to overuse resources.||Easily Access other Alternatives|
|Productivity||Proximate independent variable||Resources that have low rates of productivity produce benefits over a longer time intervals and thus discounted benefits tend to be lower favoring overuse.||Poorly productive|
|Property regime||Proximate independent variable||Users individually own the resource so they are free to use them to maximize the short term returns and minimze long term opportunity costs of investing in alternative economic activities.||Private property or Corporate property|
|Commons condition trend||Final outcome||As a result of low levels of economic dependence, alternative sources of livelihood and low rates of productivity actors are more likely to deplete natural resources.||Worsened|
|Private property rights and conservation||contradictory|
|Marginalization and degradation||related|
Acheson, James M. 2006. Institutional Failure in Resource Management. Annual Review of Anthropology 35 (1): 117-134.
Clark, C.W., 1973. The economics of overexploitation. Science 181, 630–634.