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International Water Scarcity and VariabilityManaging Resource Use Across Political Boundaries$
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Shlomi Dinar and Ariel Dinar

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780520283077

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520283077.001.0001

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Theory of Scarcity-Variability, Conflict, and Cooperation

Theory of Scarcity-Variability, Conflict, and Cooperation

(p.15) 2 Theory of Scarcity-Variability, Conflict, and Cooperation
International Water Scarcity and Variability

Shlomi Dinar

Ariel Dinar

University of California Press

This chapter explores the linkages between water scarcity and variability and conflict and cooperation. It focuses on the scarcity-cooperation contention and then hypothesizes that, rather than a linear relationship, an inverted U-shaped constitutes the relationship between scarcity and cooperation and between water variability and cooperation. The chapter surveys a large corpus of literature (both theoretical and empirical) from various disciplines to build a theory to explain the relationship between level of water scarcity and level of cooperation over international water. While the premise that scarcity motivates cooperation (or coordination across parties) is not novel, it has been fairly rare compared to the literature that touts the relationship between scarcity, environmental change, and conflict. The model suggests that cooperation is more likely when scarcity and variability are moderate (and by extension require smaller mitigation costs). The theory also suggests that while scarcity and variability may indeed lead to cooperation, very high levels of scarcity and very low levels of scarcity (water abundance) actually reduce the incidence of cooperation.

Keywords:   inverted U-shaped function, liberal institutionalist theory, neo-liberal institutionalist theory, domestic politics, war

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