The Pitfalls of Efficiency in Irrigation Modernization

Catarina Roseta Palma (ISCTE – Instituto Universitário de Lisboa)

May 27, 2019, 11:00–12:15


Room MS 003

Environment Economics Seminar


Increasing efficiency in resource use is a commonly accepted aim. It creates the possibility of solving the economic problem of scarce resource allocation in a way that generates more income and, potentially, increases welfare. However, it has long been clear that higher levels of efficiency in the use of specific resources do not necessarily lead to proportional increases in resource conservation, since there are rebound effects in consumption. Efficiency improvements might even encourage additional resource use, a situation known as backfire. Moreover, the existing literature covers specific resources, mainly energy and water, separately. In this paper we present a dynamic model of irrigation where efficiency in water use is considered, and we highlight the role played by energy use through pumping costs.