Price Discovery and Distribution of Water Rights Linking Upstream Tree Plantations to Downstream Water Markets: Experimental Results

Water Policy 13: 810-827. DOI: 10.2166/wp.2011.085

19 Pages Posted: 24 Sep 2012 Last revised: 16 Feb 2016

See all articles by Thomas L. Nordblom

Thomas L. Nordblom

Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation (Charles Sturt University & NSW DPI)

Andrew F. Reeson

CSIRO

John Finlayson

Charles Sturt University - Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation

Iain Hume

Australian National University

Stuart M. Whitten

Independent

Jason Kelly

North West Agrifinance

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

This paper reports controlled experiments on markets linking downstream water entitlement holders with upstream landholders wishing to establish large tree plantations. The present study tackles the question of whether it matters who owns the initial water rights. Coase’s (1960) theorem suggests initial endowments will not affect final equilibrium outcomes, in terms of water prices and water rights held by the various parties. That theorem is tested through experiments with human subjects who blindly represent different groups of water users. These are land owners in upstream water supply sub-catchments and downstream urban, irrigation and ‘stock & domestic’ water users, each with pre-specified marginal values of water. These values and equilibrium results calculated in an earlier modelling study provide the theoretical base for evaluating the new results. In the experiment the initial endowments of water rights were shifted between the up and downstream participants. Strong ‘endowment effects’ were observed; participants who held the greatest initial endowments often traded away fewer units than predicted by the theoretical model and captured greater shares of the gains of trade. Including new tree plantations in the market for permanent water entitlements can engender positive changes in economic surpluses in all sectors, with greater levels of social equity and protection of downstream wetland assets. This is in sharp contrast with reductions in river volumes reaching downstream parties and environmental assets in the absence of regulations requiring purchase of entitlements to cover extra water use by new plantations.

Keywords: Coase, Endowment-effect, Environmental-services, Experimental-economics, Irrigation, Stock & domestic, Tree-plantations, Urban, Wetlands, Murray-Darling Basin, Australia

Suggested Citation

Nordblom, Thomas L. and Reeson, Andrew F. and Finlayson, John and Hume, Iain and Whitten, Stuart M. and Kelly, Jason, Price Discovery and Distribution of Water Rights Linking Upstream Tree Plantations to Downstream Water Markets: Experimental Results (2011). Water Policy 13: 810-827. DOI: 10.2166/wp.2011.085 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2151055

Thomas L. Nordblom (Contact Author)

Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation (Charles Sturt University & NSW DPI) ( email )

Albert Pugsley Place
Wagga Wagga, NSW 2650
Australia
+61419290428 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.csu.edu.au/research/grahamcentre/our-people/members2/tom-nordblom

Andrew F. Reeson

CSIRO ( email )

41 Boggo Rd
Dutton Park, Queensland
Australia

John Finlayson

Charles Sturt University - Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation ( email )

EH Graham Centre (CSU+NSW DPI)
Pine Gully Road
Wagga Wagga, 2650
Australia

Iain Hume

Australian National University ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
Australia
+(02) 6125 4020 (Phone)

Stuart M. Whitten

Independent

No Address Available
United States

Jason Kelly

North West Agrifinance ( email )

442- 450 Goonoo Goonoo Road
Tamworth, 2340
Australia

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