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Political Altruism of Transboundary Water Sharing


  • Bhaduri Anik

    () (Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn)

  • Barbier Edward B

    () (University of Wyoming)


In the paper, using a political altruism model, we make an attempt to explain why an upstream country might agree to a treaty that recognizes and enforces the water claims of a downstream country. In a natural extension of the standard economic model, it is possible to explain the above phenomena, by allowing for altruism between countries. The altruistic concerns of the countries are dependent on other country's willingness to have a good political relationship. If both the countries maintain favorable political relations with one another, then the upstream country will care about the impacts of its water diversion on the downstream country's welfare. The paper also illustrates the case of water sharing of the Ganges River between India and Bangladesh. The Ganges River, like many other rivers in the world, ignores political boundaries. In Bangladesh, the final downstream country along the Ganges, freshwater availability depends on the share of water diverted by the upstream country, India. For decades, India and Bangladesh failed to resolve the water-sharing issues of the Ganges River. However, in 1996, both India and Bangladesh signed a major new agreement on water sharing (Ganges River Treaty) in an effort to resolve the dispute. Using the political altruism model developed in the paper, we examine why despite needing more water than is available under the treaty, India has adapted to shortages instead of resorting to conflict with Bangladesh.

Suggested Citation

  • Bhaduri Anik & Barbier Edward B, 2008. "Political Altruism of Transboundary Water Sharing," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-30, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:8:y:2008:i:1:n:32

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hori, Hajime, 1992. "Utility functionals with nonpaternalistic intergenerational altruism: The case where altruism extends to many generations," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 451-467, April.
    2. Bergstrom, Ted, 1989. "Love and Spaghetti, the Opportunity Cost of Virtue," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 165-173, Spring.
    3. McKelvey, Richard D., 1976. "Intransitivities in multidimensional voting models and some implications for agenda control," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 472-482, June.
    4. James R. Chelius & James B. Dworkin, 1980. "An Economic Analysis of Final-Offer Arbitration as a Conflict Resolution Device," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 24(2), pages 293-310, June.
    5. Andreoni, James, 1989. "Giving with Impure Altruism: Applications to Charity and Ricardian Equivalence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1447-1458, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bhaduri, Anik & Amarasinghe, Upali A. & Shah, Tushaar, 2008. "Benefits of irrigation water transfers in the National River Linking Project: a case study of Godavari (Polavaram)-Krishna link in Andhra Pradesh," IWMI Conference Proceedings 235168, International Water Management Institute.
    2. Eskander, Shaikh & Janus, Thorsten & Barbier, Edward, 2016. "Linking The Unlinked: Transboundary Water-Sharing Under Water-For-Leverage Negotiations," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, Boston, Massachusetts 235650, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    3. Diana Suhardiman & Mark Giordano, 2012. "Process-focused analysis in transboundary water governance research," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 299-308, September.

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