March 6, 2010
Zetland on Water Rights as Property Rights for the Poor
David Zetland (Berkeley--Agricultrual & Resource Economics) has posted Water Rights and Human Rights: The Poor Will not Need Our Charity if We Need Their Water. The abstract:
Each year, about 2.8 million people die due to problems with poor water supply, sanitation and hygiene. Over three-quarters of the dead are children. Some argue that a *human right* to clean water would improve this situation. This paper shows that human rights have not improved access to clean water and argues that it would be more productive to give people a *property right* to water. Because property rights - unlike human rights - are alienable, some portion of an individual's rights can be exchanged for access to clean water. Besides this basic equity outcome, property rights could enrich the poor, increase the efficient use of water, and improve water supply reliability in countries with poor governance.
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