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Tragedy of the Commons

Last updated: February 12, 2017

What Does Tragedy of the Commons Mean?

Tragedy of the commons is the phrase given to a situation where demand for a resource becomes such that individuals exploit the resource, leaving nothing nothing for others. The phrase was coined by Garret Hardin, who wrote an article entitled 'The Tragedy of the Commons,' which was published in 'Science' journal in 1968. Hardin wrote primarily with regard to overpopulation.

Safeopedia Explains Tragedy of the Commons

The problem of tragedy of the commons can be seen with regard to grazing land. Provided that the number of herders grazing cattle on the land was kept to a certain level, the land would provide adequately. Natural control mechanisms, such as disease and warfare, would ensure control. If, however, If these controls are overcome, the land would become overtaxed. When non-renewable resources are depleted, we see tragedy of the commons in action.


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