Universiteit Leiden

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Water Civilization: The Evolution of the Dutch Drinking Water Sector

Thursday 8 March 2018
After the seminar, refreshments will be served.
FGGA Research Seminars
Turfmarkt 99
2511 DP The Hague

Research Seminar

Dutch drinking water companies now deliver safe affordable water to the entire population, but this result was not planned. It emerged, rather, from an evolutionary process in which various pressures on the commons resulted in changes to drinking water systems that addressed old concerns but uncovered new problems. Our analytical narrative traces this problem-solution-new problem pattern through four eras in which a common-pool dilemma is addressed by a private-good solution (1850-1880), a club-good solution (1880-1910) and public good solution (1910-1950) before returning to a private-good solution in the last 1950-1990 era. Actions, like the dates just given, were not always exact or effective, as the process was shaped by changing social norms regarding the distribution of costs and benefits from improved water services. This Dutch history is unique, but its insights can help improve drinking water services elsewhere.

Please find the paper here 


David Zetland is Assistant Professor at Leiden University College The Hague, where he teaches various classes on economics. He received his PhD in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of California, Davis in 2008. His research focuses on the political economy of water. He blogs on water, economics and politics at aquanomics.com, has written two books on economic solutions to water scarcity, gives many talks to public, professional and academic audiences, and writes for popular and academic outlets.

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