Guarding giants: resource commons quality and informal property rights in big-wave surfing

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Empirical Economics



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Common-pool resource quality, Logistic transformation, MM estimation, Ordered logit, Property rights and enforcement, Surfing


© 2017, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany. This study extends prior empirical research on issues associated with the common-pool resource represented by surf breaks (i.e., surfing locations) by (1) creating an alternative, perhaps more objective metric, based on a logistic transformation of pairwise comparisons of the results of big-wave surfing competitions, of surf break quality, (2) applying the alternative surf break quality metric to “big-wave” surf breaks and (3) varying the test area by examining big-wave surf breaks worldwide. The results presented here are perhaps even more compelling than those from prior research—indicating that a marginal increase in surf break quality leads to a relatively large increase—in this case more than 30% points—in the probability of observing fierce localism at surf breaks. The finding here of a larger marginal effect of surf break quality on localism in big-wave surfing than in traditional surfing supports the idea that big-wave surfing and traditional surfing represent distinct markets, characterized by different technologies and inherent dangers, such that localism at big-wave surf breaks exceeds that at traditional surf breaks in terms of ferocity, ceteris paribus. Although this study focuses specifically on the relationship between surf break quality and localism, our research highlights the importance of informal property rights protection of common-pool resources.

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