The Relations among Population, Resources, Environment and Sustainable Development: A Game Theory Analysis

By Lee, Chen-Kuo | International Journal of Management, March 2012 | Go to article overview

The Relations among Population, Resources, Environment and Sustainable Development: A Game Theory Analysis


Lee, Chen-Kuo, International Journal of Management


Adopting game theory as the analytical tool, this study uses a classic model to examine the relations among population, resources, and environmental behaviors. An evolutionary game model is used to identify the most feasible solution based upon cooperation, properties, and government's regulations in order to achieve coordination among population, resources, and environment. This study assumes that in a closed system, population growth and farming land acquisition cause excessive reclamation and environmental deterioration in the one-time game. According to the results, collaboration between poeple alone cannot solve environmental issues permanently.

Introduction

Ever since Hardin (1968) publicized his paper, "The Tragedy of the Commons" has become the most prominent literature for the research on the issues related to the environment degradation. This is how Hardin (1968) described "The Tragedy of the Commons", "...Therein is the tragedy. Each man is locked into a system that compels him to increase his herd without limit - in a world that is limited. Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest in a society that believes in the freedom of the commons. Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all...." Hardin's descriptions are therefore concluded as "the most difficult game for the commons has been created from Hardin's theoretical standpoints." In other words, the great majority of the individuals involved in "The Tragedy of the Commons" tend to adopt "uncooperative" strategies as opposed to the minority adopting "cooperative" strategies. Furthermore, the equilibrium achieved by the individual's optimal strategies is irrelevant to the best strategy and best results for all individuals (Ostrom, 1992). Therefore, "The Tragedy of the Commons" is universally significant and is sufficient to interpret many, many similar phenomena. Therefore, this study intends to describe the basic relationships between population, resources, and environment in accordance with the dilemma faced by the commons and according to the fundamental viewpoints manifested by the evolutionary game.

When human beings are making decisions regarding resources and environment, they are pretty much in the same position as the players that are making decisions and choosing strategies in the dilemma created by the "commons" wherein people prefer not to cooperate with one another. Players choose the "optimal" strategies for their respective interests without consideration to the best interests of the others. Psychologically, they expect other players to cooperate with them but they do not cooperate with the others and thus they have a good chance to maximize their interests. Consequently, they conclude that the rivalries will not cooperate with them and thus intensify their uncooperative strategies in order to minimize their risks and loss.

The individuals' rational strategies cause the group to act irrationally. The behavior contradicts the economic assumptions. According to the ' prisoners' dilemma, the uncooperative strategies work better than the cooperative strategies. Both players act "ignorantly in a rational manner", revealing "how selfishness has created an uncooperative, contaminated, and arm-racing world - an evil, uncivilized lifestyle that makes life shorter" (Samuelson and Nordhaus, 1985). Knowing the externality associated with the environmental behaviors, human beings tend to act uncooperatively.

The classic game for environmental behavior

1. Assumptions

(1) Population, resources, and environment constitute a closed system with no external authority to interfere with the decisions made by the players;

(2) AU players are rational and homogeneous in terms of land acquisition and reclamation. There are only two players - Player A and Player B;

(3) When population grows, the new population acquires extra land based upon the households' number of heads and are consequently benefited from the extra land. …

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