Welfare and distribution effects of water pricing policies

A.J.W. Ruijs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, distribution and welfare effects of changes in block price systems are evaluated. A method is discussed to determine, for a Marshallian demand function, equivalent variation in case of a block price system. The method is applied to compare, for the Metropolitan Region of São Paulo, alternative pricing policies on the basis of their demand, welfare and distribution effects of changing water prices. Results show that there is a trade off between average welfare and income distribution. A pro-poor price system may result in lower average welfare than a flat price system, but in higher individual welfare for the poor. Moreover, there is a trade off between revenues for the water company and income distribution. Even though pro-poor price systems may not be as good for average welfare as flat price systems, their direct effects on poverty are important. Introducing pro-poor price systems, however, may have financial consequences for the water companies
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-182
JournalEnvironmental and Resource Economics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • increasing block rates
  • consumers-surplus
  • demand-functions
  • united-states
  • efficiency
  • prices
  • equity


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