Consumer preferences and public policy : a case study of water supply and waste management in Madras (Chennai), India
This thesis examines provision of water supply and waste management in the Indian city of Madras (Chennai). It is concerned with identifying the central features of these two services in Madras, and understanding public attitudes towards their provision. It is based on the micro-economic model of consumer behaviour and the random utility maximisation approach. The empirical work is based on a survey of 148 households drawn by cluster sampling method. Using focus groups, a small number of options, representing various combinations of attributes of interest, have been developed. In the survey, each respondent was presented with some of these options and the price (a monthly charge) at which each option is available. They were requested to choose the most preferred option. The analysis indicated that decisions were made by consumers mainly based on the attributes of the options. Respondent characteristics seem to have a fairly limited impact. In the case of water supply, whether an option provides a yard tap connection or not was a significant attribute. A negative preference for an option requiring the consumers to engage in rain water harvesting and recycling was also seen. In the case of waste management, primary collection was a significant attribute. In both cases, there was no clear evidence that respondents consider attributes in a hierarchical manner. Other issues explored in the thesis are: developing a water balance sheet, extending Sen's entitlements approach to water supply, and an exploration of co-operation (from a survey of 16 neighbourhood associations in Madras, called Civic Exnoras). It appears that co-operation has a weak (negative) relationship with group size; an ambivalent relationship with the number of services. Where committee members work collectively, co-operation from households is likely to be high. Limitations of the micro-economic framework are noted and some issues for further research have been identified.