Table of Contents

Handbook of Water Economics

Handbook of Water Economics

Edited by Ariel Dinar and Kurt Schwabe

Water scarcity, whether in the quality or quantity dimension, afflicts most countries. Decisions on water management and allocation over time, space, and among uses and users involve economic considerations. This Handbook assembles research that represents recent thinking and applications in water economics. The book chapters are written by leading scholars in the field who address issues related to its use, management, and value. The topics cover analytical methods, sectoral and intersectoral water issues, and issues associated with different sources of water.

Chapter 2: Institutions and water

William K. Jaeger

Subjects: economics and finance, environmental economics, environment, water


Water is a unique resource and so, too, are the institutions that surround its use. Institutions, it is said, are the ‘rules of the game’, the humanly devised mechanisms that constrain, guide and shape human choices, opportunities and interactions. Institutions provide a structure to human motives and behavior, whether in political, social or economic realms of life (see North, 1990; Bromley, 1989). Broadly interpreted, these intangible tools that define and limit the set of choices for individuals in society include any and all rules – both formal and informal institutions – that influence behavior. This classification thus includes the US Constitution, property rights, regulations and common law, as well as social conventions, codes of conduct, norms and moral rules. We can see from this list that some institutions are created through deliberative processes by governments or other organizations but, in many other cases, institutions simply evolve over time, as with ethical standards and common law. The study of institutions has a long history in economics; they are recognized for their role in making the world around us more predictable. The literature has classical origins in property rights theory, but has expanded since then under the label of ‘new institutional economics’, which includes theories emphasizing the role of transaction costs, and other strands of literature focused on the nature of collective action, the role of effective enforcement mechanisms, the process of institutional change, and the relationship between institutions and organizations.

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information