The Illiquidity of Water Markets

81 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2015 Last revised: 2 Dec 2023

See all articles by Javier D. Donna

Javier D. Donna

University of Florida; Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis

José-Antonio Espín-Sánchez

Yale University; Yale University - Cowles Foundation; Economic Growth Center

Date Written: December 1, 2023


We investigate the efficiency of a market relative to a non-market institution—an auction relative to a quota—as allocation mechanisms in the presence of frictions. We use data from water markets in southeastern Spain and explore a specific change in the institutions to allocate water. On the one hand, frictions arose because poor farmers were liquidity constrained. On the other hand, farmers who were part of the wealthy elite were not liquidity constrained. We estimate a structural dynamic demand model by taking advantage of the fact that water demand for both types of farmers is determined by the technological constraint imposed by the crop’s production function. This approach allows us to differentiate liquidity constraints from unobserved heterogeneity. We show that the institutional change from an auction to a quota increased total efficiency for the farmers considered. Welfare increased by 23.4 real pesetas per farmer per tree, a 6 percent increase in total production relative to the market.

Keywords: Market Efficiency, Dynamic Demand, Auctions, Quotas, Vertical Integration, Financial Markets

JEL Classification: D02, G14, L11, L13, L42, L50

Suggested Citation

Donna, Javier D. and Espin-Sanchez, Jose-Antonio, The Illiquidity of Water Markets (December 1, 2023). Available at SSRN: or

Javier D. Donna (Contact Author)

University of Florida ( email )

Gainesville, FL 32606
United States


Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis ( email )

Jose-Antonio Espin-Sanchez

Yale University ( email )

28 Hillhouse Ave
New Haven, CT 06520-8268
United States
2034320890 (Phone)


Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Box 208281
New Haven, CT 06520-8281
United States

Economic Growth Center ( email )

Box 208269
New Haven, CT 06520-8269
United States

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