Private Eradication of Mobile Public Bads

Abstract

We consider analytically the non-cooperative behavior of many private property owners who each controls the stock of a public bad, which can grow and spread across spatial areas. We characterize the conditions under which private property owners will control or eradicate, and determine how this decision depends on property-specific environmental features and on the behavior of other landowners. We show that high mobility or lower control by others result in lower private control. But when the marginal dynamic cost of the bad is sufficiently large, we find that global eradication may be privately optimal – in these cases, eradication arises in the non-cooperative game and is also socially optimal so there is, in effect, no externality.

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