Spring Cleaning: Rural Water Impacts, Valuation and Property Rights Institutions

56 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2009 Last revised: 30 Sep 2009

See all articles by Michael Kremer

Michael Kremer

Harvard University - Department of Economics; Brookings Institution; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Center for Global Development; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Jessica Leino

University of California, Berkeley

Edward Miguel

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Alix P. Zwane

University of California, Berkeley

Date Written: August 2009

Abstract

In many societies, social norms create common property rights in natural resources, limiting incentives for private investment. This paper uses a randomized evaluation in Kenya to measure the health impacts of investments to improve source water quality through spring protection, estimate the value that households place on spring protection, and simulate the welfare impacts of alternative water property rights norms and institutions, including common property, freehold private property, and alternative "Lockean" property rights norms. We find that infrastructure investments reduce fecal contamination by 66% at naturally occurring springs, cutting child diarrhea by one quarter. While households increase their use of protected springs, travel-cost based revealed preference estimates of households' valuations are only one-half stated preference valuations and are much smaller than levels implied by health planners' typical valuations of child mortality, consistent with models in which the demand for health is highly income elastic. Simulations suggest that, at current income levels, private property norms would generate little additional investment while imposing large static costs due to spring owners' local market power, but that private property norms might function better than common property at higher income levels. Alternative institutions, such as "modified Lockean" property rights, government investment or vouchers for improved water, could yield higher social welfare.

Suggested Citation

Kremer, Michael R. and Leino, Jessica and Miguel, Edward and Zwane, Alix P., Spring Cleaning: Rural Water Impacts, Valuation and Property Rights Institutions (August 2009). NBER Working Paper No. w15280. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1459581

Michael R. Kremer (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Rm. 207
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Brookings Institution

1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20036-2188
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Center for Global Development

2055 L St. NW
5th floor
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Jessica Leino

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Edward Miguel

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics ( email )

549 Evans Hall #3880
Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Alix P. Zwane

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
26
Abstract Views
676
PlumX Metrics