The role of common pool problems in irrigation inefficiency: A case study in groundwater pumping in Mexico

Shanxia Sun, Juan P. Sesmero, Karina Schoengold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Groundwater depletion is a serious problem in Mexico. Several policy alternatives are currently being considered in order to improve the efficiency of irrigation water use so that extraction of groundwater is diminished. An understanding and quantification of different sources of inefficiency in groundwater extraction is critical for policy design. Survey data from a geographically extensive sample of irrigators is used to gauge the importance of common pool problems on input-specific irrigation inefficiency. Results show that mechanisms of electricity cost sharing implemented in many wells have a sizable impact on inefficiency of irrigation application. Moreover, irrigation is very inelastic to its own unitary cost. Therefore, results suggest that policies aimed at eliminating electricity cost-sharing mechanisms would be significantly more effective than electricity price-based policies in reducing irrigation application. Results also show that well sharing does not affect groundwater pumping significantly, suggesting either a limited effect of individual pumping on water level or absence of strategic pumping by farmers sharing the wells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-127
Number of pages11
JournalAgricultural Economics (United Kingdom)
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Cost-share externality
  • Electricity cost sharing
  • Groundwater
  • Input-specific efficiency
  • Irrigation demand elasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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