Dams: Effects of Hydrological Infrastructure on Development

Andrew Dillon, Ram Fishman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Hydrological investments, particularly irrigation dams, have multiple potential benefits for economic development. Dams also have financial, environmental, and distributional impacts that can affect their benefits and costs. This article reviews the evidence on the impact of dams on economic development, focusing on the levels and variability of agricultural productivity, and its effect on poverty, health, electricity generation, and flood control. We also review the evidence on irrigation efficiency and collective action of dam maintenance. Throughout the discussion, we highlight the empirical challenges that restrict the body of causally interpretable impact estimates and areas in which the evidence is particularly thin. We conclude with a discussion of emerging issues pertaining to the long-term sustainability of dams impacts and suggest directions for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-148
Number of pages24
JournalAnnual Review of Resource Economics
StatePublished - Oct 5 2019


  • agriculture
  • dams
  • development
  • irrigation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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