The Cobra Effect

A famous anecdote describes a scheme the British Colonial Government implemented in India in an attempt to control the population of venomous cobras that were plaguing the citizens of Delhi that offered a bounty to be paid for every dead cobra brought to the administration officials. The policy initially appeared successful, intrepid snake catchers claiming their bounties and fewer cobras being seen in the city. Yet, instead of tapering off over time, there was a steady increase in the number of dead cobras being presented for bounty payment each month. Nobody knew why.

Other sources:

Anne-Laure Le Cunff:

“Delhi, beware of the cobra effect”

Freakonomics podcast: