ARE Alumni Published In Current Issue of American Economic Journal: Applied Economics

January 05, 2023

Inefficient Water Pricing and Incentives for Conservation
Ujjayant Chakravorty, Manzoor H. Dar and Kyle Emerick

Abstract: Farmers often buy water using fixed fees—rather than with marginal prices. We use two randomized controlled trials in Bangladesh to study the relationship between marginal prices, adoption of a water-saving technology, and water usage. Our first experiment shows that the technology only saves water when farmers face marginal prices. Our second experiment finds that an encouragement to voluntarily convert to hourly pumping charges does not save water. Taken together, efforts to conserve water work best when farmers face marginal prices, but simply giving an option for marginal pricing is insufficient to trigger water-saving investments and reduce irrigation demands.

The Economic Incidence of Wildfire Suppression in the United States
Patrick Baylis and Judson Boomhower

Abstract: This study measures the degree to which public expenditures on wildfire protection subsidize development in harm's way. We use administrative data on firefighting expenditures to measure the causal effect of nearby homes on the amount spent to extinguish wildfires. We use these estimates in an actuarial calculation yielding geographically differentiated expected implicit subsidies for homes across the western United States. The expected net present value of this subsidy can exceed 20 percent of home value, increases with fire hazard, and decreases surprisingly steeply with development density. We discuss potential behavioral responses by individuals and local governments using a simple economic model.