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Tragedy of the Commons

A “tragedy of the commons” occurs because people take something out of or put something into a resource because each individual who has a right to the resource perceives that the benefits derived from doing so outweigh associated costs. In the familiar example, a commons may be a field on which sheep can graze, and all those in a village may use such a field to feed their sheep. The “tragedy” occurs because rights to use the resource are widely assigned or collectively owned, with no one person having the right to exclude the others. Each person or entity that has a right to use the resource does so without regard to the actions of others or the value of the resource, and eventually the ...

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