Manon's Econ Blog

Is sharing good?

Posted on: December 1, 2009

“Sharing is caring.” You can often hear that everywhere; but economists realized that people care more about things when they are “private property.” When it is public, such as public streets, public bathrooms and so on, people do not take care of it. Nevertheless, as soon as it is a private property, people make sure it stays clean.

Also, when something, such as fishes or elephants, are public property, people take as much as they possibly can. They do not care about others, they take as much as they can to make the more profit possible. Is this greed? It is in the sense that people, although have self-interest, take things away from others. Nevertheless, as soon as the elephants became private property of the village (people could buy a license to kill them), less elephants were killed because people were making sure that no one else was killing them. These people were not motivated by the willingness of sharing, but by self-interest. So are they greedy? Or just self-interested?

If greed brings good (like more elephants) then is greed bad? In Africa it saved thousands of elephants, so the question of “greed” and “self-interest” is not that easy.

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