GBUS 8626 The Global Economics of Water


Recent droughts and the soaring food prices they trigger underscore that freshwater scarcity will be a major challenge in the 21st century. In spite of reports about imminent water crises, the world is not running out of water. It is especially the very uneven distribution of water, across and within countries, that is a concern. There is a need for improved water management. This course applies the tools of economics to various dimensions of sustainability and sustainable development in the context of global water use and water management. Topics may vary from year to year. Next year we will study water use as economies grow and engage in international trade; how water is supplied through dams and public works and how it is priced; how water markets are an increasingly popular tool to address scarcity and environmental concerns; and how firms specifically engage the challenge. A few guest speakers are invited to class. Some of the classes will be co-taught with Brian Richter, Head of Water of the Nature Conservancy.


Academic Course Objectives:


·         Solidify students’ understanding of the global context of water use and the challenges of the growing water crisis.

·         Sharpen the expertise of students in applying economics to think about natural resources, extending economic models from first-year GEM such as the Solow model, welfare analysis, public goods and comparative advantage/international trade.

·         Place economic analysis in an interdisciplinary context of hydrology and environmental science.


Elements of the Course Grade:


Class contribution                               40%

Individual paper/project                      60%