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Does Marginal Price Matter? A Regression Discontinuity Approach to Estimating Water Demand

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  • Nataraj, Shanthi
  • Hanemann, W. Michael

Abstract

Although complex pricing schedules are increasingly common in utility billing, it is difficult to determine whether consumers respond to complicated marginal prices because price changes are often confounded with simultaneous demand shocks or non-price policies. To overcome this challenge, we exploit a natural experiment - the introduction of a third price block in an increasing block pricing schedule for water - in Santa Cruz, California. Using a regression discontinuity design, we find that consumers do respond to changes in marginal price. Doubling marginal price led to a 12% decrease in water use (500 cubic feet per bill) among high-use households.

Suggested Citation

  • Nataraj, Shanthi & Hanemann, W. Michael, 2008. "Does Marginal Price Matter? A Regression Discontinuity Approach to Estimating Water Demand," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt2jc295gr, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:agrebk:qt2jc295gr
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    Cited by:

    1. Henrique Monteiro, 2010. "Residential Water Demand in Portugal: checking for efficiency-based justifications for increasing block tariffs," Working Papers Series 1 ercwp0110, ISCTE-IUL, Business Research Unit (BRU-IUL).
    2. Baerenklau, Kenneth A. & Schwabe, Kurt & Dinar, Ariel, 2014. "Do Increasing Block Rate Water Budgets Reduce Residential Water Demand? A Case Study in Southern California," 2014 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2014, Minneapolis, Minnesota 170019, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    3. María Pérez-Urdiales & María A. García-Valiñas & Roberto Martínez-Espiñeira, 2016. "Responses to Changes in Domestic Water Tariff Structures: A Latent Class Analysis on Household-Level Data from Granada, Spain," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, pages 167-191.
    4. H. Allen Klaiber & V. Kerry Smith & Michael Kaminsky & Aaron Strong, 2014. "Measuring Price Elasticities for Residential Water Demand with Limited Information," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 90(1), pages 100-113.
    5. Wichman, Casey J., 2014. "Perceived price in residential water demand: Evidence from a natural experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 107(PA), pages 308-323.
    6. Wichman, Casey J. & Taylor, Laura O. & von Haefen, Roger H., 2016. "Conservation policies: Who responds to price and who responds to prescription?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 114-134.
    7. Asci, Serhat & Borisova, Tatiana, 2014. "The Effect of Price and Non-Price Conservation Programs on Residential Water Demand," 2014 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2014, Minneapolis, Minnesota 170687, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    8. Alexandros Polycarpou & Theodoros Zachariadis, 2013. "An Econometric Analysis of Residential Water Demand in Cyprus," Water Resources Management: An International Journal, Published for the European Water Resources Association (EWRA), Springer;European Water Resources Association (EWRA), vol. 27(1), pages 309-317, January.
    9. Zhang, Zibin & Cai, Wenxin & Feng, Xiangzhao, 2017. "How do urban households in China respond to increasing block pricing in electricity? Evidence from a fuzzy regression discontinuity approach," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 161-172.
    10. Hancevic, Pedro & Lopez-Aguilar, Javier, 2017. "Energy efficiency programs in the context of increasing block tariffs: The case of residential electricity in Mexico," MPRA Paper 80093, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Wichman, Casey J., 2017. "Information provision and consumer behavior: A natural experiment in billing frequency," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 152(C), pages 13-33.
    12. Sidibé, Amadou, 2010. "Demand for soil, water and forest conservation in Burkina Faso," Department of Forest Economics publications 2345, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of forest economics.
    13. Hendricks, Nathan P. & Peterson, Jeffrey M., 2012. "Fixed Effects Estimation of the Intensive and Extensive Margins of Irrigation Water Demand," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 37(1), April.
    14. Patrícia Moura e Sá & Rita Martins, 2015. "Perceções dos Consumidores Domésticos acerca das Faturas de Água," Notas Económicas, Faculty of Economics, University of Coimbra, issue 42, pages 30-48, December.
    15. Steven Buck & Maximilian Auffhammer & Stephen Hamilton & David Sunding, 2015. "Measuring the Welfare Losses from Urban Water Supply Disruptions," Working Papers 1502, California Polytechnic State University, Department of Economics.
    16. Daniel A. Brent, 2016. "Estimating Water Demand Elasticity at the Intensive and Extensive Margin," Departmental Working Papers 2016-06, Department of Economics, Louisiana State University.
    17. Steven Buck & Maximilian Auffhammer & Stephen Hamilton & David Sunding, 2016. "Measuring Welfare Losses from Urban Water Supply Disruptions," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(3), pages 743-778.
    18. Kenneth A. Baerenklau & Kurt A. Schwabe & Ariel Dinar, 2014. "The Residential Water Demand Effect of Increasing Block Rate Water Budgets," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 90(4), pages 683-699.
    19. Barde, Julia Alexa & Lehmann, Paul, 2013. "Distributional effects of water tariff reforms: An empirical study for Lima, Peru," UFZ Discussion Papers 14/2013, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Division of Social Sciences (ÖKUS).
    20. repec:ags:jrapmc:122312 is not listed on IDEAS

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