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Simple Incentives and Group Dependence for Successful Payments for Ecosystem Services Programs: Evidence from an Experimental Game In Rural Lao PDR

Simple Incentives and Group Dependence for Successful Payments for Ecosystem Services Programs: Evidence from an Experimental Game In Rural Lao PDR

In this paper, we use a new game-based tool to evaluate the immediate and longer-term behavioral change potential of three different payment for environmental services (PES) delivery mechanisms: direct payments for individual performance, direct payments for group performance and insurance. Results from four rural shifting-cultivation dependent communities in Lao PDR suggest that easily understood group-oriented incentives yield the greatest immediate resource-use reduction and experience less free-riding. Group-based incentives may succeed because they motivate participants to communicate about strategies and coordinate their actions and are perceived as fair. No incentive had a lasting effect after it ceased, but neither did any crowd out the participants’ baseline behavior. Temporary reductions in resource dependence may provide a buffer for development of new livelihoods and longer-term change. Games like the one developed here can help policymakers appropriately target environmental incentive programs to local contexts and teach program participants how incentive schemes work.

Authors: Salk, C.; Lopez, M.-C.; Wong, G.Y.

Topic: livelihoods, environmental services, local communities

Geographic: Laos

Publication Year: 2017

ISSN: 1755-263X

Source: Conservation Letters 10(4): 413-420

DOI: 10.1111/conl.12277

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