Effect of infrastructure design on commons dilemmas

Model Description


The authors address the question of how infrastructure design affects SES sustainability in two stages. First, they explore the effects of design variations in shared infrastructure on long-term system behavior in a model system. They examine two types of distribution infrastructure, one with and one without upstreamdownstream asymmetry, and different threshold characteristics of infrastructure maintenance. Second, they evaluate how these design variations influence the robustness of system function to an economic shock.  

The model assumes that there are N farming households spread across two villages (village 1 and village 2) that manage a shared irrigation infrastructure. Each farmer is endowed with the same amount of available labor (l) each year and the same acreage (a). A farmer appropriates units of water from the system and allocates labor among three activities: farming, maintaining infrastructure and outside employment at a wage rate w. Governance is represented in the model by the following rules. The expected maintenance labor contribution is proportional to the farmer's acreage (assumed to be same for all farmers in this model). Water allocations are also proportional to acreage, but only among the water rights holders. Only farmers who contributed labor to the infrastructure maintenance before the planting season obtain water rights. Farmers choose between two strategies: group conformist (G) and opportunist (O). Gs follow and enforce rules, and strive to maximize the total welfare of the two villages. Os break the rules and attempt to maximize the individual net income. The model tracks the fraction of Gs in the village and the resulting performance of the irrigation system.

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