Institutional Path Dependence in Climate Adaptation: Coman's "Some Unsettled Problems of Irrigation"
AbstractKatharine Coman's "Some Unsettled Problems of Irrigation," published in March 1911 in the first issue of the American Economic Review , addressed issues of water supply, rights, and organization. These same issues have relevance today, in the face of growing concern about the availability of fresh water worldwide. The central point of this article is that appropriative water rights and irrigation districts that emerged in the American West in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in response to aridity to facilitate agricultural water delivery, use, and trade raise the transaction costs today of water markets. These markets are vital for smooth reallocation of water to higher-valued uses elsewhere in the economy and for flexible response to greater hydrological uncertainty. This institutional path dependence illustrates how past arrangements to meet conditions of the time constrain contemporary economic opportunities. They cannot be easily significantly modified or replaced ex post. (JEL N51, Q15, Q25, Q54)
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Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.
Volume (Year): 101 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- N51 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
- Q15 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Land Ownership and Tenure; Land Reform; Land Use; Irrigation; Agriculture and Environment
- Q25 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Water
- Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters
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