Casey M. Brown

Publication Date

Spring 2016


INVESTIGATING INTERACTIONS BETWEEN WATER AND SOCIETY ON A GLOBAL SCALE: ECONOMETRIC ANALYSES OF HYDROCLIMATIC VARIABILITY AND WATER POLICY AUGUST 2016 HASSAAN FURQAN KHAN Directed by: Professor Casey M. Brown Water-related hazards such as floods, droughts and disease cause damage to an economy through the destruction of physical capital including property and infrastructure, the loss of human capital and the interruption of economic activities, like trade and education. The question for policy makers, however, is whether the impacts of water-related risk accrue to manifest as a drag on economic growth at a scale suggesting policy intervention. In this work, we use differently specified panel regression models to estimate the average drag on economic growth from waterrelated hazards faced by society at a global level. In doing so, we make use of surface runoff related variables never used before. In addition, the analysis is conducted at the country-basin level. The analysis of the climate variables shows that water availability and water hazards have significant effects on economic growth, providing further evidence beyond earlier studies finding precipitation extremes were at least as important or likely more important than temperature effects. In the second part of this work, we investigate the impact of drought on economic growth and find that on average, regions in South America, Southern Africa, Middle East and South Asia are the most affected. The most strongly impact country-basin units are in the tropics where hydrologic variability is relatively high. Many of the regions with a higher vulnerability to droughts are characterized by extensive agriculture. Moving to the third part of this study, we incorporate a broad set of variables representing the areas of infrastructure, institutions and information to identify the characteristics of a region that determine its vulnerability to waterrelated risks. We then develop a variety of linear regression models in an exploratory analysis to characterize the relevant characteristics for determining a region’s vulnerability to hydroclimatic variables. The results identify water scarcity, governance and agricultural intensity as the most relevant measures affecting vulnerabilities to climate variability effects