An illiquid market in the desert: estimating the cost of water trade restrictions in northern Chile
Gonzalo Edwards; Eric C. Edwards; Óscar Cristi y Gary D. Libecap
Environment and Development Economics. Vol. 23, Issue 6, December 2018. Pp. 615-634
Abstract: This paper estimates the cost of a policy to restrict water trades to mining firms in northern Chile in order to protect riparian ecosystems and indigenous agriculture. In response to the policy, mining firms have developed high-cost desalination and pumping facilities to secure adequate water supplies. We develop a methodology and estimate the cost of market transactions that fail to occur due to the policy. Lost trade surplus is estimated at US$52 million per year. Without trade restrictions, around 86 per cent of the remaining agricultural water in the region would be transferred to mining.
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