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The Design of ``Smart'' Water Market Institutions Using Laboratory Experiments

  • James Murphy
  • Ariel Dinar
  • Richard Howitt
  • Steven Rassenti
  • Vernon Smith

One of the problems with proposals for substantialinstitutional change in water systems is thatmodification and irreversibility make the processslow, cautious and costly to society. In this paper,we discuss the role that experimental economics canplay in evaluating proposed institutional changes tohelp facilitate a more rapid and smooth adoption ofchanges in the water system. Experimental economicsyields a formal and replicable system for analyzingalternative market structures before they are actuallyimplemented. For example, a water market can bedeveloped and tested in the laboratory under supplyand demand constraints that reflect drought conditionsthat might occur in California, or other arid regionsin the world. We present a prototype of a Californiawater transfer model and the results from a series ofwater market experiments. Results include realizedmarket efficiency and surplus distribution, as well asan analysis of market price volatility. Theimplications of this research extend well beyondCalifornia water markets, not only to water markets inother arid regions, but also to the design of marketsfor other environmental goods, including tradablepollution permits and fishery ITQs. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1023/A:1026598014870
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Article provided by European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists in its journal Environmental and Resource Economics.

Volume (Year): 17 (2000)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
Pages: 375-394

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Handle: RePEc:kap:enreec:v:17:y:2000:i:4:p:375-394
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  1. Smith, Vernon L, 1982. "Microeconomic Systems as an Experimental Science," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 923-55, December.
  2. Vernon L. Smith, 1980. "Relevance of Laboratory Experiments to Testing Resource Allocation Theory," NBER Chapters, in: Evaluation of Econometric Models, pages 345-377 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Jan Kmenta & James B. Ramsey, 1980. "Evaluation of Econometric Models," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kmen80-1, June.
  4. Rassenti, Stephen J & Reynolds, Stanley S & Smith, Vernon L, 1994. "Cotenancy and Competition in an Experimental Auction Market for Natural Gas Pipeline Networks," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 41-65, January.
  5. Richard E. Howitt, 1995. "A Calibration Method For Agricultural Economic Production Models," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(2), pages 147-159.
  6. McCabe, Kevin A. & Rassenti, Stephen J. & Smith, Vernon L., 1989. "Designing `smart' computer-assisted markets : An experimental auction for gas networks," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 5(2-3), pages 259-283.
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