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Transboundary waters: Using game theory in theoretical and experimental studies to analyze the management of upstreamdownstream water problems

Marianna Khachaturyan, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Water resource management is a major concern worldwide due to the rapid population growth and demands of economic development. Water resources are distributed unevenly and sharing water between multiple users or countries is common. Transboundary rivers create an interdependency among countries, where an upstream country can impact the quantity and quality of water downstream. The dissertation analyzes multiple issues related to water management. Chapter One is based on a laboratory experiment that models a situation where the decisions of upstream farmers impact the pollution level downstream. The chapter explores the gender differences in the use of conservation technology, which improves downstream water quality. This study also examines framing, the role of emotional feedback, and their impact on the use of conservation. Results show that: (1) females behave more environmentally friendly, (2) in the framing treatments there is no gender difference in providing negative emotional feedback, while males are more likely to offer positive feedback, (3) the gender difference in providing emotional feedback disappears once we account for the lake cleanliness, and (4) negative feedback is especially effective on males. Chapter Two provides background information on the Kura-Araks Basin. This basin lies across five countries, with Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia occupying the majority of it. The chapter identifies and discusses national and transboundary water issues in the region, which include both the management of water quantity and quality. Chapter Three focuses on the upstream-downstream relationship between Azerbaijan and Georgia. The purpose of this study is to compare aggregated isolated and linked games in the Kura-Araks Basin. It uses the interconnected game theoretic approach (using several issues that the countries can negotiate over) to analyze transboundary waters. Specifically, water quantity and water quality games are developed. Result show that interconnected (linked) games can generate outcomes that cannot be achieved when issues are negotiated independently. Chapter Four discusses the issues associated with the traditional economic modeling and considers the alternative framework, namely metaeconomics, which recognizes the role of empathy in analyzing shared water resources.

Subject Area

Behavioral psychology|Environmental economics|Water Resource Management

Recommended Citation

Khachaturyan, Marianna, "Transboundary waters: Using game theory in theoretical and experimental studies to analyze the management of upstreamdownstream water problems" (2014). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3667009.