Spatial Coordination in Agglomeration Bonus Schemes with Transaction Costs and Communication: An Experimental Study
By: Simanti Banerjee (University of Nebraska-Lincoln)
Timothy N. Cason (Purdue University)
Frans P. de Vries (University of Stirling)
Nick Hanley (Department of Geography and Sustainable Development, University of St. Andrews)
Agglomeration Bonus (AB) schemes reward private landowners to spatially coordinate land use decisions to enhance the supply of ecosystem services. The AB mechanism creates a coordination game with multiple Pareto ranked Nash equilibria, which correspond to different spatially-coordinated land use patterns. This paper experimentally analyses subjects’ participation decisions, land use choices and AB performance in the presence of transaction costs, with and without the option to communicate with neighboring subjects in a local network setting. The experiment varies transaction costs at two levels (high and low), which affects the risks and payoffs of coordinating on the different equilibria. Results indicate a significant difference in participation under high and low transaction costs in the early stages of the experiment. Increased experience reduces participation rates and AB performance. Costless pre-play communication induces full participation and land use choice pertaining to the efficient Nash equilibrium. If communication is costly, the level of transaction costs affects participation levels, the degree of spatial coordination, and the ecosystem services benefits produced. Our study suggests that performance of Payment for Ecosystem Services schemes in general and the AB scheme in particular can be improved through mechanisms intended to reduce the costs associated with participation and communication.
Keywords: Coordination Games, Lab Experiments, Local Networks, Payment for Ecosystem Services
JEL: C91 D83 D81 Q51 Q