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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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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Donoso H., Guillermo & Jouravlev, Andrei & Peña, Humberto & Zegarra Méndez, Eduardo, 2004. "Mercados (de derechos) de agua: experiencias y propuestas en América del Sur," Recursos Naturales e Infraestructura 80, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL).
    2. Mónica Ríos & Jorge Quiroz, 1995. "The Market of Water Rights in Chile: Major Issues," Latin American Journal of Economics-formerly Cuadernos de Economía, Instituto de Economía. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile., vol. 32(97), pages 317-346.
    3. Hearne, R.R. & Easter, K.W., 1995. "Water Allocation and Water Markets. An Analysis of Gains-from-Trade in Chile," Papers 315, World Bank - Technical Papers.
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