Unraveling the Multiple Margins of Rent Generation from Individual Transferable Quotas

Matthew N. Reimer, Joshua K. Abbott and James E. Wilen


Individual transferable quotas (ITQs) induce changes along both the extensive margin—via consolidation of quota among fewer vessels—and the intensive margin, as harvesters adjust their behavior to ITQ incentives. We use ITQ introduction in the Bering Sea crab fishery to decompose the sources of rent generation across both margins. We embed an empirically calibrated structural model of the harvesting process into a sector-level model, allowing us to experimentally “unravel” the ITQ treatment. We show that the magnitude and source of rent generation under ITQs critically depends on the manner and degree of rent dissipation before ITQs are implemented. (JEL Q22, Q28)