Voluntary Cooperation in the Commons? Evaluating the Sea State Program with Reduced Form and Structural Models

Joshua K. Abbott and James E. Wilen

Abstract

We utilize a variety of approaches to examine the success of a voluntary conservation program for a common property resource. The availability of panel data and a nonparticipatory group lets us use quasi-experimental methods to investigate the distribution of outcome treatment effects. We supplement these methods by incorporating a difference-in-differences structure into a behavioral model of fishing location choice to disentangle the program’s incentive effects from potentially misleading temporal variations in behavioral constraints. Our findings yield insight into the factors that support cooperation and illustrate the power of the complementary use of structural and reduced form models in program evaluation. (JEL C21, Q22)