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On the Natural and Economic Difficulties to Fulfilling the Human Right to Water Within a Neoclassical Economics Framework

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  • Christopher Jeffords
  • Farhed Shah

Abstract

We present a neoclassical economic model of the human right to water using a nonrenewable resource model inclusive of a backstop technology. The right is interpreted as a minimum consumption requirement the government is obligated to fulfill in the event that any one household cannot do so independently. Differing by income levels, households maximize utility by purchasing a composite consumption good and water from two distinct, government-owned sources. Facing physical and financial constraints, the government uses fiscal policy to address potential human rights violations. Reducing the analysis to two periods, we develop a novel approach to compare total welfare levels from a joint human rights and neoclassical economics perspective. We define a human rights welfare standard and discuss cases in which traditional social welfare measures would exceed, violate, or meet this standard. We thus offer a unique way to merge economic analysis with human rights research.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher Jeffords & Farhed Shah, 2013. "On the Natural and Economic Difficulties to Fulfilling the Human Right to Water Within a Neoclassical Economics Framework," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 71(1), pages 65-92, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:rsocec:v:71:y:2013:i:1:p:65-92
    DOI: 10.1080/00346764.2012.761753
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1080/00346764.2012.761753
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    Cited by:

    1. Loucao, Sebastian, 2014. "External Effects of Hydraulic Fracturing: Risks and Welfare Considerations for Water Supply in Germany," FCN Working Papers 4/2014, E.ON Energy Research Center, Future Energy Consumer Needs and Behavior (FCN), revised Aug 2015.

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