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The Syr Darya River Conflict: An Experimental Case Study

  • KLAUS ABBINK

    ()

    (School of Economics, University of Nottingham)

  • MOLLER, Lars Christian

    ()

    (School of Economics, University of Nottingham)

  • SARAH O’HARA

    ()

    (School of Geography, University of Nottingham)

With the disintegration of the USSR a conflict arose between Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan over the Syr Darya river. Upstream Kyrgyzstan operates the Toktogul reservoir which generates hydropower demanded mainly in winter for heating. Downstream Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan need irrigation water in summer, primarily to grow cotton. Regional agreements obliging Kyrgyzstan to high summer discharges in exchange for fossil fuel transfers in winter have generally been unsuccessful, notably due to lack of trust between the parties. Striving for self-sufficiency in irrigation water, Uzbekistan initiated new reservoir construction. This paper examines their economic impact. We report a laboratory experiment modelling the Syr Darya river scenario as a multi-round three-player trust game with non-binding contracts. Payoff schemes are estimated using real-life data. While basinwide efficiency maximisation requires regional cooperation, our results demonstrate that cooperation in the laboratory is hard to achieve. Uzbek reservoirs improve the likelihood of cooperation only weakly and their positive economic impact is limited to low-water years.

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Paper provided by The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham in its series Discussion Papers with number 2005-14.

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Date of creation: Jul 2005
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Handle: RePEc:not:notcdx:2005-14
Contact details of provider: Postal: School of Economics University of Nottingham University Park Nottingham NG7 2RD
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Web page: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/economics/cedex/

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  1. Georg Kirchsteiger & Ernst Fehr & Arno Riedl, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5927, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
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  3. Chatterjee, Bishu & Howitt, Richard E. & Sexton, Richard J., 1998. "The Optimal Joint Provision of Water for Irrigation and Hydropower," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 295-313, November.
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  5. Simon Gaechter & Armin Falk, . "Reputation and Reciprocity: Consequences for the Labour Relation," IEW - Working Papers 019, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
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  7. D. Kilgour & Ariel Dinar, 2001. "Flexible Water Sharing within an International River Basin," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 18(1), pages 43-60, January.
  8. Abbink, Klaus & Irlenbusch, Bernd & Renner, Elke, 2000. "The moonlighting game: An experimental study on reciprocity and retribution," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 265-277, June.
  9. Chaim Fershtman & Uri Gneezy, 2001. "Discrimination In A Segmented Society: An Experimental Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(1), pages 351-377, February.
  10. Willinger, Marc & Keser, Claudia & Lohmann, Christopher & Usunier, Jean-Claude, 2003. "A comparison of trust and reciprocity between France and Germany: Experimental investigation based on the investment game," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 447-466, August.
  11. Abbink, Klaus & Abdolkarim Sadrieh, 1997. "RatImage 3.30," Discussion Paper Serie B 417, University of Bonn, Germany.
  12. Stefan Ambec & Joseph Doucet, 2003. "Decentralizing hydro power production," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 36(3), pages 587-607, August.
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