How Does Urbanization Affect Water Withdrawals? Insights from an Econometric-Based Landscape Simulation

Daniel P. Bigelow, Andrew J. Plantinga, David J. Lewis and Christian Langpap


Effects on water resources are an understudied aspect of the environmental consequences of urbanization. We study how urban land development affects water withdrawals on a regional scale to account for market adjustments, human behavioral responses, and government institutions. Fine-scale econometric and simulation methods are used to represent the spatial heterogeneity associated with determinants of water withdrawals. Our analysis reveals a complicated relationship between future water withdrawals and changes in socioeconomic drivers. Despite population growth of approximately 85% and a doubling of income, water withdrawals in two urban areas increase by at most 12% and in another area, decrease slightly. (JEL Q24, Q25)

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