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Category: Colombia

No crowding out among those terminated from an ongoing PES program in Colombia

Esther Blanco, Lina Moros, Alexander Pfaff, Ivo Steimanis, Maria Alejandra Velez, Bjorn Vollan
Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 120 (2023)

This paper presents novel evidence of no crowding out, of either motivations or donations, among those terminated from an ongoing program of payments for ecosystem services (PES) in Colombia. PES programs have risen in number. However, claims about perverse impacts after programs end could inhibit their growth. PES end for different reasons (planned duration, budget reduction, issues in implementation) and in different ways (some participants or all). An expressed concern for PES is that receiving payments lowers conservation, after PES end, if participants’ intrinsic motivations for conservation are ‘crowded out’ by financial incentives. We test for crowding out by an ongoing program in which some but not all contracts were terminated. We see no evidence of crowding out, since neither the motivations nor the donations for the terminated farmers are significantly different than for non-PES land owners (and this is robust to matching on levels of assets, residence on farm past donation behavior, main economic activity, and participation in collective activities). Our results add evidence from an actual PES to literature questioning the relevance, importance and even sign of crowding effects.


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Temporary PES do not crowd out and may crowd in lab-in-the-field forest conservation in Colombia

Lina Moros, Maria Alejandra Velez, Daniela Quintero, Danny Tobin, Alexander Pfaff
Ecological Economics 204 (2023)

Payments for ecosystem services (PES) programs exist globally and at times shift behaviors. Unlike protected areas, PES compensate land users, raising local acceptance of conservation. Yet some worry that if payments are temporary, as is often the case, conservation behaviors can be reduced by PES, ‘crowded out’ to be lower after PES than if no PES had existed. We conducted lab-in-the-field experiments in Colombia, where PES policies are expanding, offering either individual or collective conditional payments to 676 farmers who are potential PES participants. Those payments end, within each experimental session, for all or only for some participants. We consistently find that conservation is not lower after PES than before. Also, conservation contributions tend to fall over time without PES, in keeping with public-goods literatures. Taken together, these results imply that even after our payments end, conservation is above the baseline defined by our controls, suggesting some form of (at least short-run) crowding in.


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Leaders’ distributional & efficiency effects in collective responses to policy: Lab-in-field experiments with small-scale gold miners in Colombia

Luz A. Rodriguez, Maria Alejandra Velez, Alexander Pfaff
World Development 147 (2021)

Globally, small-scale gold mining (SSGM) is an important economic option for many rural poor. It involves local uses of shared resources, like common-pool contexts for which self-governance has avoided ‘tragedies of the commons’. Yet even ideal local governance of SSGM is not societally efficient given non-local damages that suggest external interventions for desired shifts. Because transactions costs are high for rewarding reductions in damages on remote mining frontiers, states could gain if rewards based on low-cost, group compliance measures could successfully induce cooperation in response to policy. However, as group-level rewards invite free-riding, such success requires local collective action. Since that guarantees neither efficient coordination nor equitable distributions of net benefits from compliance, we consider the impacts of emergent leaders on local responses to external policy. We employ framed lab experiments with 200 small-scale gold miners in Colombia’s Pacific to explore leaders’ impacts on equity and efficiency in collective responses to external incentives. Allowing communication before individual choice, which raises efficiency but not always equity, we can identify emergent leaders of groups’ communications. Leaders raise compliance and affect how its costs are distributed, suggesting access to leadership roles matters.

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Graduated stringency within collective incentives for group environmental compliance: Building coordination in field-lab experiments with artisanal gold miners in Colombia

Luz A. Rodriguez, Alexander Pfaff, Maria Alejandra Velez
Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 98

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Small-scale gold mining is important to rural livelihoods in the developing world but also a source of environmental externalities. Incentives for individual producers are the classic policy response for a socially efficient balance between livelihoods and the environment. Yet monitoring individual miners is ineffective, or it is very costly, especially on frontiers with scattered small-scale miners. We ask whether monitoring at a group level effectively incentivizes cleaner artisanal mining by combining lower-cost external monitoring with local collective action.We employ a mining-framed, threshold-public-goods experiment in Colombia’s Pacific region, with 640 participants from frontier mining communities. To study compliance with collective environmental targets, we vary the target stringency, including to compare increases over time in the stringency versus decreases. We find that collective incentives can induce efficient equilibria, with group compliance — and even inefficient overcompliance — despite the existence of equilibria with zero contributions. Yet, for demanding targets in which the reward for compliance barely outweighs the cost, compliance can collapse. Those outcomes improve with past successes for easier targets, however, so our results suggest gain from building coordination via graduated stringency.


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Framed field experiment on resource scarcity & extraction: path-dependent generosity within sequential water appropriation

Alexander Pfaff, Maria Alejandra Vélez, Pablo Andres Ramos, Adriana Molina
Ecological Economics 120 (2015) 416–429

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How one treats others is important within collective action. We ask if resource scarcity in the past, due to its effects upon past behaviors, influences current other-regarding behaviors. Contrasting theories and empirical findings on scarcity motivate our framed field experiment. Participants are rural Colombian farmers who have experienced scarcity of water within irrigation. We randomly assign participants to groups and places on group canals. Places order extraction decisions. Our treatments are sequences of scarcities: ‘from lower to higher resources’ involves four rounds each of 20, 60, then 100 units of water; ‘from higher to lower resources’ reverses the ordering. We find that upstream farmers extract more, but a lower share, when facing higher resources. Further they take a larger share of higher resources when they faced lower resources in earlier rounds (relative to when facing higher resources initially). That is inconsistent with leading models of responses to scarcity which focus upon one’s own gain. It is consistent with lowering one’s weight on others to, for instance, rationalize having left them little. Our results suggest that facing higher scarcity can erode the bases for collective actions. For establishing new institutions, timing relative to scarcity could affect the probability of success.


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