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Water and Economic Growth

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  • Edward Barbier

    (Dept of Economics and Finance, University of Wyoming, USA)

Abstract

Several hydrological studies forecast a global problem of water scarcity. This raises the question as to whether increasing water scarcity may impose constraints on the growth of countries. The influence of water utilization on economic growth is depicted through a growth model that includes this congestible public good as a productive input for private producers. Growth is negatively affected by the government's appropriation of output to supply water but positively influenced by the contribution of increased water use to capital productivity, leading to an inverted-U relationship between economic growth and the rate of water utilization. Crosscountry estimations confirm this relationship and suggest that for most economies current rates of freshwater utilization are not yet constraining growth. However, for a handful of countries, moderate or extreme water scarcity may affect economic growth adversely. Nevertheless, even for water-scarce countries, there appears to be little evidence that there are severe diminishing returns to allocating more output to provide water, thus resulting in falling income per capita. These results suggest caution over the claims of some hydrological-based studies of a widespread global "water crisis".

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Adelaide, Centre for International Economic Studies in its series Centre for International Economic Studies Working Papers with number 2002-28.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:adl:cieswp:2002-28

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Keywords: Congestible public goods; cross-country regressions; economic growth; freshwater; water scarcity.;

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Cited by:
  1. Lenzen, Manfred & Bhaduri, Anik & Moran, Daniel & Kanemoto, Keiichiro & Bekchanov, Maksud & Geschke, Arne & Foran, Barney, 2012. "The role of scarcity in global virtual water flows," Discussion Papers 133478, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).
  2. Elisa Gatto & Matteo Lanzafame, 2005. "Water resource as a factor of production - water use and economic growth," ERSA conference papers ersa05p227, European Regional Science Association.
  3. Fang, Xiangming & Roe, Terry L. & Smith, Rodney B.W., 2006. "Water Shortages, Water Allocation and Economic Growth: The Case of China," Conference Papers 6629, University of Minnesota, Center for International Food and Agricultural Policy.
  4. Bhaduri, Anik & Perez, Nicostrato D. & Liebe, Jens, 2008. "Scope and Sustainability of Cooperation in Transboundary Water Sharing of the Volta River," Discussion Papers 43324, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).
  5. Bhaduri, Anik & Manna, Utpal & Barbier, Edward B. & Liebe, Jens, 2009. "Cooperation in transboundary water sharing under climate change," Discussion Papers 51303, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).

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