Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10419/191484
Year of Publication: 
2016
Series/Report no.: 
IRENE Working Paper No. 16-04
Publisher: 
University of Neuchâtel, Institute of Economic Research (IRENE), Neuchâtel
Abstract: 
We design a survey to provide quantitative evidence about household demand for qualitative aspects of tap water supply. We focus on two characteristics that are of importance for households: water hardness and aesthetic quality in terms of taste, smell and appearance. Our survey elicits expenditures on products that improve the overall experience of these characteristics of tap water quality, and administration targets a representative sample of the population in England and Wales. For water hardness, our results show that around 14% of households employ at least one water softener device or purchase products such as softening tablets or descaling agents. For the aesthetic quality of tap water, around 39% of households report some averting behaviour, the most common being the use of filtering devices, purchase of bottled water, or addition of squash or cordial. To study how expenditures on these products vary with the level of service quality, we match household data to highly disaggregated records on regional water hardness (in mg CaCO3=l) and aesthetic quality, as measured by the regional rate of complaints to the water service supplier. Our econometric analysis suggests that households’ decision to incur averting expenditures varies with service quality in a statistically and economically significant manner, providing novel evidence that households actively respond to non-health related aspects of tap water quality.
Subjects: 
Water demand
Tap water quality
Water hardness
Revealed preferences
Averting behaviour
Cost-benefit analysis
Economic surveys
JEL: 
Q25
Q53
C83
L95
D13
Document Type: 
Working Paper

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