Private water saves lives? Yes.

The World Water Forum is coming to an end. Another useless multi-country statement. Thousands of additional frequent flyer miles on globaliphobe crowds, and certainly hundreds of new pages in their “protest diaries”.

True premise: Lack of good quality water kills you and your babies.
Passionate conclusion: What kind of person would you be if you oppose water as a human right–ie, code word for “entitlement”?

Econ 101 premise: If you don’t charge for the use of goods and services, people will overuse and misuse water–and nobody would be interested in the business of water provision. Well, except the business of drinking water on fancy bottles for ultra-conscious minds who happen to be not-poor.
Common sense conclusion: Maybe privatizing (or something similar to it) water could help expand water provision, and ultimately save lives… including poor babies lives?

“No way! That is just a blackboard dream from a close-minded neoliberal”. Ummm, wait… can we look at the evidence before you continue protesting?

Water for Life: The Impact of the Privatization of Water Services on Child Mortality

Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 113, pp. 83-120, February 2005

Abstract: While most countries are committed to increasing access to safe water and thereby reducing child mortality, there is little consensus on how to actually improve water services. One important proposal under discussion is whether to privatize water provision. In the 1990s Argentina embarked on one of the largest privatization campaigns in the world, including the privatization of local water companies covering approximately 30 percent of the country’s municipalities. Using the variation in ownership of water provision across time and space generated by the privatization process, we find that child mortality fell 8 percent in the areas that privatized their water services and that the effect was largest (26 percent) in the poorest areas. We check the robustness of these estimates using cause-specific mortality. While privatization is associated with significant reductions in deaths from infectious and parasitic diseases, it is uncorrelated with deaths from causes unrelated to water conditions.

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