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Tag: mining

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)

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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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