NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Value of Scarce Water: Measuring the Inefficiency of Municipal Regulations

Erin T. Mansur, Sheila M. Olmstead

NBER Working Paper No. 13513
Issued in October 2007
NBER Program(s):   EEE   IO

Rather than allowing water prices to reflect scarcity rents during periods of drought-induced excess demand, policy makers have mandated command-and-control approaches, like the curtailment of certain uses, primarily outdoor watering. Using unique panel data on residential end-uses of water, we examine the welfare implications of typical drought policies. Using price variation across and within markets, we identify end-use specific price elasticities. Our results suggest that current policies target water uses that households, themselves, are most willing to forgo. Nevertheless, we find that use restrictions have costly welfare implications, primarily due to household heterogeneity in willingness-to-pay for scarce water.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w13513

Published: Mansur, Erin T. & Olmstead, Sheila M., 2012. "The value of scarce water: Measuring the inefficiency of municipal regulations," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 332-346. citation courtesy of

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