Applied Research in Quality of Life

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 367–385 | Cite as

Water Access and Subjective Well-Being: The Case of Sucre, Bolivia

  • Jorge GuardiolaEmail author
  • Miguel A. García-Rubio
  • Edna Guidi-Gutiérrez


In this paper we study the influence of residential water access on subjective well-being. The data come from original field work that includes 535 households in Sucre, Bolivia, a city with deficits in the water service. We relate two subjective well-being measures, satisfaction with life and satisfaction with the water domain, to water access variables. It could be the case that the effect of water access variables in subjective well-being could be spurious. That is, water access variables could be capturing shortfalls in other basic needs, such as a lack of income. In order to avoid spurious conclusions, we include socioeconomic variables such as income and place of residence in the regression as control variables. In addition, people might adapt to having poor access to water. The significance of the coefficients of the water variables could lead us to conclude that people do not adapt, but non significance means we cannot reject this possibility. In the econometric regressions, water variables such as water cuts, water quality and access quality, when added to the control variables, increase goodness-to-fit affecting both subjective well-being measures. Our results permit to assess the importance of key elements of access to water in the region under study by relating them to subjective well-being and reveal that water access influences subjective well-being beyond adaptation and other socioeconomic characteristics. Taking this into consideration, we propose that well-being studies in developing countries should consider water access aspects.


Water Happiness Water deficit Bolivia 



Financial support from the Spanish Ministry of Economics and Competitiveness (Project ECO2009-08824/ECON and Project ECO2012-32189) and the Government of Andalucia (Project P11-SEJ-7039) is acknowledged. We would like to thank to Monica Guillen-Royo and Mariano Rojas for useful comments, as well as the comments of two anonymous referees that has helped to improve the paper. Usual disclaimer applies.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and The International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (ISQOLS) 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jorge Guardiola
    • 1
    Email author
  • Miguel A. García-Rubio
    • 1
  • Edna Guidi-Gutiérrez
    • 2
  1. 1.Departamento de Economía Aplicada and Instituto Universitario del AguaUniversidad de GranadaGranadaSpain
  2. 2.Instituto Iberoamericano de MunicipalistasGranadaSpain

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