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Maintaining the Common Pool: Voluntary Water Conservation in Response to Increasing Scarcity

  • Emma Aisbett

    ()

    (The Australian National University (ANU) - Crawford School of Public Policy)

  • Ralf Steinhauser

    ()

    (Australian National University)

Water is a classic common pool resource, especially during drought. This paper studies the impact of changing storage levels on urban water usage in the context of a prolonged drought and an extensive public information campaign which emphasized communal responsibility for maintaining ‘dam levels’. We identify a substantial voluntary conservation response to changing storage levels. The paper thus contributes a rare piece of real-world, behavioral evidence that voluntary conservation varies with the need for such action. Our findings also imply that estimates of price elasticity may be biased and welfare costs of mandatory restrictions may be overstated in many studies.

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File URL: http://www.crawford.anu.edu.au/pdf/crwf_ssrn/crwfrp_1111.pdf
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Paper provided by Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University in its series Crawford School Research Papers with number 1111.

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Length: 18 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:een:crwfrp:1111
Contact details of provider: Postal: Crawford Building, Lennox Crossing, Building #132, Canberra ACT 2601
Phone: +61 2 6125 4705
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Web page: https://crawford.anu.edu.au/research/crwf_ssrn/Email:


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  1. R. Quentin Grafton & Michael B. Ward, 2008. "Prices versus Rationing: Marshallian Surplus and Mandatory Water Restrictions," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 84(s1), pages S57-S65, 09.
  2. Olmstead, Sheila M. & Michael Hanemann, W. & Stavins, Robert N., 2007. "Water demand under alternative price structures," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 181-198, September.
  3. Greg Halich & Kurt Stephenson, 2009. "Effectiveness of Residential Water-Use Restrictions under Varying Levels of Municipal Effort," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 85(4), pages 614-626.
  4. Grafton, R. Quentin & Kompas, Tom, 2002. "Pricing Sydney water," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 51(3), September.
  5. Paul J. Ferraro & Juan Jose Miranda & Michael K. Price, 2011. "The Persistence of Treatment Effects with Norm-Based Policy Instruments: Evidence from a Randomized Environmental Policy Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 318-22, May.
  6. Jasper M. Dalhuisen & Raymond J. G. M. Florax & JHenri L. F. de Groot & Peter Nijkamp, 2003. "Price and Income Elasticities of Residential Water Demand: A Meta-Analysis," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 79(2), pages 292-308.
  7. Renwick, Mary E. & Green, Richard D., 2000. "Do Residential Water Demand Side Management Policies Measure Up? An Analysis of Eight California Water Agencies," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 37-55, July.
  8. Aisbett, Emma & Steinhauser, Ralf, 2011. "Does anybody give a dam? The importance of public awareness for urban water conservation during drought," Research Reports 107850, Australian National University, Environmental Economics Research Hub.
  9. Brekke, Kjell Arne & Kverndokk, Snorre & Nyborg, Karine, 2003. "An economic model of moral motivation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(9-10), pages 1967-1983, September.
  10. David Hensher & Nina Shore & Kenneth Train, 2006. "Water Supply Security and Willingness to Pay to Avoid Drought Restrictions," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 82(256), pages 56-66, 03.
  11. Isaac, R Mark & Walker, James M, 1988. "Group Size Effects in Public Goods Provision: The Voluntary Contributions Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 103(1), pages 179-99, February.
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