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

Author

Listed:
  • Emma Aisbett

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

  • Ralf Steinhauser

    () (Australian National University)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Emma Aisbett & Ralf Steinhauser, 2011. "Maintaining the Common Pool: Voluntary Water Conservation in Response to Increasing Scarcity," Crawford School Research Papers 1111, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:een:crwfrp:1111
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    File URL: http://www.crawford.anu.edu.au/pdf/crwf_ssrn/crwfrp_1111.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. R. Quentin Grafton & Tom Kompas, 2007. "Pricing Sydney water ," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 51(3), pages 227-241, September.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. R. Mark Isaac & James M. Walker, 1988. "Group Size Effects in Public Goods Provision: The Voluntary Contributions Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 103(1), pages 179-199.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. 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 57-65, September.
    9. 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.
    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, March.
    11. 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 318-322, May.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    common pool resources; voluntary conservation; warm glow; water use; demand management;

    JEL classification:

    • Q25 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Water
    • Q21 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Demand and Supply; Prices
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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