Bargaining in the shadow of conflict: resource division and War’s Inefficiency Puzzle in the commons

Jeremy Kettering, Shane Sanders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This study examines War’s Inefficiency Puzzle in a resource bargaining model, where the nature of the resource (e.g., water or land) can influence resource division valuation. In the model, an embedded resource conflict or contest model equilibrium constitutes the disagreement point. We first show that the Puzzle holds across all winner-take-all conflict forms in a generalized family given a standard bargaining (in the shadow of conflict) framework. When introducing resource division discounts, we find conditions in which a bargaining solution does not exist such that conflict is chosen over settlement. Resource division discounts can cause conflict to be chosen over any settlement point in the feasible set, thus providing a solution to War’s Inefficiency Puzzle. This solution does not assume that a resource cannot be divided. It only assumes that division may lead to division discounts. We then consider a generalization of a classic tragedy of the commons model and find that division of an innate commons leads to division discounts as an equilibrium outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPublic Choice
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Non-convex bargaining problems
  • Resource conflict
  • Settlement
  • Tragedy of the commons
  • War’s Inefficiency Puzzle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


Dive into the research topics of 'Bargaining in the shadow of conflict: resource division and War’s Inefficiency Puzzle in the commons'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this