IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Valuing Options in Water Markets: A Laboratory Investigation


  • Kristiana Hansen


  • Jonathan Kaplan


  • Stephan Kroll



Risk and reliability dominate water supply discussions in the arid western United States due to increasing demand and finite, weather-dependent supply. Water markets have evolved in this region so agencies could meet this growing demand. In a few instances, water agencies turned to contractual mechanisms such as options to manage supply. As demand continues to grow option markets and other novel approaches to allocating water may become increasingly popular. We utilize experimental economics to analyze the effect of annual options on water markets in the absence of sufficient real-world data for conventional econometric analysis. We find gains from trade are higher when options can be traded. Additionally, gains are more evenly distributed, particularly with a dominant buyer and many sellers. Findings suggest option markets may be a viable choice as policymakers prepare for future droughts. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Suggested Citation

  • Kristiana Hansen & Jonathan Kaplan & Stephan Kroll, 2014. "Valuing Options in Water Markets: A Laboratory Investigation," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 57(1), pages 59-80, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:enreec:v:57:y:2014:i:1:p:59-80
    DOI: 10.1007/s10640-013-9659-6

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alberto Garrido, 2007. "Water markets design and evidence from experimental economics," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 38(3), pages 311-330, November.
    2. Alvin E. Roth, 2009. "What Have We Learned from Market Design?," Innovation Policy and the Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(1), pages 79-112.
    3. Howitt, Richard E. & Hansen, Kristiana, 2005. "The Evolving Western Water Markets," Choices, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 20(1).
    4. James Murphy & Ariel Dinar & Richard Howitt & Steven Rassenti & Vernon Smith, 2000. "The Design of ``Smart'' Water Market Institutions Using Laboratory Experiments," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 17(4), pages 375-394, December.
    5. Ronald G. Cummings & Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2004. "Using laboratory experiments for policymaking: An example from the Georgia irrigation reduction auction," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(2), pages 341-363.
    6. James J. Murphy & Ariel Dinar & Richard E. Howitt & Erin Mastrangelo & Stephen J. Rassenti & Vernon L. Smith, 2006. "Mechanisms for Addressing Third-Party Impacts Resulting From Voluntary Water Transfers," Chapters,in: Using Experimental Methods in Environmental and Resource Economics, chapter 5 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    7. Villinski, Michele Terese, 2003. "A framework for pricing multiple-exercise option contracts for water," Doctoral Dissertations 162235, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.
    8. Klaus Abbink & Bettina Rockenbach, 2006. "Option pricing by students and professional traders: a behavioural investigation," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(6), pages 497-510.
    9. Cason, Timothy N. & Gangadharan, Lata & Duke, Charlotte, 2003. "Market power in tradable emission markets: a laboratory testbed for emission trading in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 469-491, October.
    10. Cason, Timothy N., 2010. "What Can Laboratory Experiments Teach Us About Emissions Permit Market Design?," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 39(02), pages 151-161, April.
    11. Andrew Muller, R. & Mestelman, Stuart & Spraggon, John & Godby, Rob, 2002. "Can Double Auctions Control Monopoly and Monopsony Power in Emissions Trading Markets?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 70-92, July.
    12. Ellen Hanak, 2003. "Who Should Be Allowed to Sell Water in California? Third-Party Issues and the Water Market," PPIC Research Reports, Public Policy Institute of California, number wtrmkt, dez..
    13. Ruffle, Bradley J., 2005. "Tax and subsidy incidence equivalence theories: experimental evidence from competitive markets," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(8), pages 1519-1542, August.
    14. Hanan G. Jacoby & Rinku Murgai & Saeed Ur Rehman, 2004. "Monopoly Power and Distribution in Fragmented Markets: The Case of Groundwater," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(3), pages 783-808.
    15. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
    16. Sunder, S., 1992. "Experimental Asset Markets: A Survey," GSIA Working Papers 1992-19, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
    17. Shanley, James & Grossman, Philip J., 2007. "Paradise to parking lots: Creation versus maintenance of a public good," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 523-536, August.
    18. Godby, Robert W. & Mestelman, Stuart & Muller, R. Andrew & Welland, J. Douglas, 1997. "Emissions Trading with Shares and Coupons when Control over Discharges Is Uncertain," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 359-381, March.
    19. Dale J. Menkhaus & Owen R. Phillips & Chris T. Bastian, 2003. "Impacts of Alternative Trading Institutions and Methods of Delivery on Laboratory Market Outcomes," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1323-1329.
    20. Forsythe, Robert & Palfrey, Thomas R & Plott, Charles R, 1982. "Asset Valuation in an Experimental Market," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 537-567, May.
    21. Marianne LEFEBVRE & Lata GANGADHARAN & Sophie THOYER, 2011. "Do Security-differentiated Water Rights Improve Efficiency?," Working Papers 11-14, LAMETA, Universtiy of Montpellier, revised Jun 2012.
    22. Bjornlund, Henning & McKay, Jennifer, 2002. "Aspects of water markets for developing countries: experiences from Australia, Chile, and the US," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(04), pages 769-795, October.
    23. Jamie Brown-Kruse & Steven R Elliot & Rob Godby, 1995. "Strategic Manipulation of Pollution Permit Markets: An Experimental Approach," Department of Economics Working Papers 1995-03, McMaster University.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. repec:kap:enreec:v:68:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10640-016-0032-4 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Dry-year options; Experimental economics; Market design; Water markets; Water resource allocation; D23; L22; Q25;

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure
    • Q25 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Water


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kap:enreec:v:57:y:2014:i:1:p:59-80. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla) or (Rebekah McClure). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.