Journal article

Sustainability as a Dynamic Game


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  • 2022
Published in:
  • AEA Randomized Controlled Trials. - American Economic Association. - 2022, p. 1-30
English Sustainability is a fundamental concept in the environmental domain, but also in other domains such as financial matters or regarding personal health. Sustainability means using resources today in a way that does not compromise the availability of resources tomorrow. In this paper, we propose and test a model that incorporates the essential features of sustainability. First, our Sustainability Game is dynamic in the sense that the actions played in each period have consequences for future periods. Second, there is a contribution threshold that must be reached in order to keep the level of resources. Finally, as in many applications, including environment conservation, cooperation between many individuals is required to reach a sustainable path, while the temptation to over-use resources is strong. We first derive equilibrium behavior analytically and then test these predictions in a lab experiment. Our main results are the following: (i) Theoretically and experimentally, strategic interaction reduces cooperative behavior and undermines sustainability. (ii) Theoretically and experimentally, lowering the threshold fosters cooperation and sustainability. Moreover, cooperative behavior correlates positively with a participant’s agreeableness, pro-environmental attitudes and, in situations of equilibrium selection, with cognitive ability. Our results suggest that technological advancements that lower the threshold for sustainability and behavioral change toward sustainability need not be viewed as alternatives, but rather as complementary.
Faculté des sciences économiques et sociales et du management
Département d'économie politique
  • English
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Open access status
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