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Water Demand Under Alternative Price Structures

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  • Sheila Olmstead
  • W. Michael Hanemann
  • Robert N. Stavins

Abstract

We estimate the price elasticity of water demand with household-level data, structurally modeling the piecewise-linear budget constraints imposed by increasing-block pricing. We develop a mathematical expression for the unconditional price elasticity of demand under increasing-block prices and compare conditional and unconditional elasticities analytically and empirically. We test the hypothesis that price elasticity may depend on price structure, beyond technical differences in elasticity concepts. Due to the possibility of endogenous utility price structure choice, observed differences in elasticity across price structures may be due either to a behavioral response to price structure, or to underlying heterogeneity among water utility service areas.

Suggested Citation

  • Sheila Olmstead & W. Michael Hanemann & Robert N. Stavins, 2007. "Water Demand Under Alternative Price Structures," NBER Working Papers 13573, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13573
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • L95 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Gas Utilities; Pipelines; Water Utilities
    • Q21 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Demand and Supply; Prices
    • Q25 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Water
    • Q28 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Government Policy

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