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The Tragedy of the Masks: curbing stockpiling behavior through a 'victim'

Giuseppe Danese () and Luigi Mittone

No 2201, CEEL Working Papers from Cognitive and Experimental Economics Laboratory, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia

Abstract: The phenomenon of household products disappearing from supermarket shelves after the COVID-19 outbreak has received strong attention in the media. After a negative shock, household products can be viewed as a common-pool resource subject to a rule of capture by the first appropriator. Using a sample of US participants, we show that when the participants are informed that a fixed supply of facial masks exists, they often coordinate on an egalitarian allocation of masks. In another study in which it is brought to the participants' attention that COVID-19 disproportionately affects the elderly population, participants 24 or younger spontaneously demand fewer masks than 65 or older participants. A group of incentivized external observers identifies a prudentially-low demand for masks as appropriate in this environment.

Keywords: COVID-19; common-pool resource; stockpiling; identified victim (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C92 H41 I12 Q20 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-env and nep-his
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