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Can self-governance tackle the water commons? — Causal evidence of the effect of rural water pollution treatment on farmers' health in China


  • Luo, Yaping
  • Wu, Jianxian
  • Xu, Ying


The rural water commons issue is related to the well-being of farmers. Some studies have identified self-governance as an effective solution to the water commons issue, but there is little evidence about rural water pollution treatment. Based on the theory of self-governance, this study empirically tests whether self-governance can effectively address rural water pollution from the perspective of farmers' health demands. Using data from the China Labor-force Dynamics Survey (CLDS), we examine the effect of self-governance of rural water pollution on farmers' health. The results reveal that the self-governance of rural water pollution has no significant effect on farmers' health. Further evidence demonstrates that farmers' individual treatment of rural water pollution significantly reduces the probability of illness. The central conclusion is that in the context of Chinese rural water pollution control, self-governance has not responded effectively to the water commons issue, and individual treatment does not necessarily lead to the tragedy of the commons. A combination of farmers' treatment behavior and its health effects may be a possible pathway to tackle the rural water commons issue.

Suggested Citation

  • Luo, Yaping & Wu, Jianxian & Xu, Ying, 2022. "Can self-governance tackle the water commons? — Causal evidence of the effect of rural water pollution treatment on farmers' health in China," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 198(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:198:y:2022:i:c:s0921800922001331
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2022.107471

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