What makes them follow the rules? Empirical evidence from turtle egg harvesters in Costa Rica
This paper presents an empirical analysis of the factors that determine individual compliance with a locally devised set of rules for harvesting and selling marine turtle eggs, as well as for protecting the turtles and their hatchlings. Individuals who violate the rules receive a monetary penalty, which implies a reduction in the income from sale of eggs. While some individuals do not have income reductions due to infractions, others have reductions of up to 40% of the total income. Using written records of deductions due to sanctions between May 2008 and May 2010 and information from a survey of 108 local turtle egg harvesters, the paper presents the results of econometric analyses of factors that influence the amount of fines received by individuals. The results suggest that individual dependence on the income from sale of eggs, perceptions of rules and their legitimacy, and demographic factors such as age and gender are all important factors explaining rule breaking behavior. The findings also highlight new threats to the long-term survival of local institutions responsible for protection of marine turtles and their sustainable consumptive use. âº The paper examines compliance with rules for harvesting of eggs and protection of marine turtles. âº Written records on rule infractions and individuals surveys are used to analyze compliance. âº Opportunity costs, perceptions, and demographic characteristics explain rule adherence. âº Economic and normative incentives affect strategies for protecting marine turtle nesting sites.