Understanding irrigator bidding behavior in Australian water markets in response to uncertainty

Alec Zuo, Robert Darren Brooks, Sarah Ann Wheeler, Edwyna Margaret Harris, Henning Bjornlund

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Water markets have been used by Australian irrigators as a way to reduce risk and uncertainty in times of low water allocations and rainfall. However, little is known about how irrigators bidding trading behavior in water markets compares to other markets, nor is it known what role uncertainty and a lack of water in a variable and changing climate plays in influencing behavior. This paper studies irrigator behavior in Victorian water markets over a decade (a time period that included a severe drought). In particular, it studies the evidence for price clustering (when water bids/offers end mostly around particular numbers), a common phenomenon present in other established markets. We found that clustering in bid/offer prices in Victorian water allocation markets was influenced by uncertainty and strategic behavior. Water traders evaluate the costs and benefits of clustering and act according to their risk aversion levels. Water market buyer clustering behavior was mostly explained by increased market uncertainty (in particular, hotter and drier conditions), while seller-clustering behavior is mostly explained by strategic behavioral factors which evaluate the costs and benefits of clustering.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3457 - 3477
Number of pages21
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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