Beachfront nourishment decisions: the “sucker–free rider” problem



Coastal communities and beachfront property owners often respond to erosion by adding sand to restore local beaches. However, beach nourishment alters shoreline dynamics, not only at the replenishment site but also in adjacent coastal regions, as natural coastal processes shift sand from one location to another. The result is that “sucker” communities pay to build up their beaches, but that replenishment also helps protect the coastlines of “free rider” communities. The sucker–free rider situation is an example of a classic problem studied in economics and game theory frameworks.