Is the Tragedy of the Commons Likely? Factors Preventing the Dissipation of Fuelwood Rents in Zimbabwe

Richard L. Hegan, Grant Hauer and Martin K. Luckert


Although village “rules” classify fuelwood resources in rural Zimbabwe as being open-access, theory suggests that social norms and/or heterogeneity among users prevents rents from being dissipated. Results from a Random Utility Model suggest that social norms and heterogeneous travel costs significantly influence site choice. Welfare measures suggest that there are positive site rents, and that these rents vary because social norms and/or heterogeneity are preventing rent dissipation at some sites more than others. Given the prevalence of social norms and heterogeneity in costs, the “tragedy-of-the commons” is unlikely. (JEL Q23)

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