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Bringing water markets down to Chile’s Atacama Desert


  • Manuel Prieto


The Chilean water model has been described as a textbook example of a successful free water market system. This paper analyses water-rights transactions to determine how this water market has behaved in the northern Atacama Desert. It questions the neoliberal assumption that Chile’s unregulated water market has acted as an active tool to reallocate water towards uses that provide the highest economic value. Instead, it argues that the state is the central actor in water allocation. This problematizes the notion that the Chilean water model is one of the most unregulated in the world.

Suggested Citation

  • Manuel Prieto, 2016. "Bringing water markets down to Chile’s Atacama Desert," Water International, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(2), pages 191-212, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:rwinxx:v:41:y:2016:i:2:p:191-212
    DOI: 10.1080/02508060.2015.1107400

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