Living in a Post-Water World
21 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2019
Date Written: August 9, 2019
Multiple factors are increasing fresh water scarcity, and few societies are prepared to cope. Although some assume that solutions will come from technology, profit motives or better planning, I argue that outdated and mismatched institutions are making scarcity worse and blocking efforts to manage water according to its economic and social uses. In this paper, I use a simple framework to explain how water's economic and collective value should be managed, explain how mismatched incentives can destroy value, and use examples to show how current quality of life will fall as scarcity worsens in the presence of inappropriate institutions. This combination of theory and speculative examples should help readers think about how we might adapt to increasing water scarcity – or not.
Keywords: climate change, food security, virtual water, agricultural trade
JEL Classification: F51, H42, Q17, Q25
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation