Water scarcity involves quantity and quality risks, as well as technological, behavioral, and policy-based factors. This study informs understanding of water scarcity by examining perceived threats and solutions across sites in the United States, New Zealand, Fiji, and Bolivia. Using interview data, we (1) characterize perceived water scarcity risks and solutions for each setting and (2) examine how perceptions differ across countries based on development and water scarcity. Broadly, residents in developed contexts worried more about quality than about quantity, and individual practices (e.g., preventing pollution) were most commonly cited as remedies. Yet significant differences exist across geographies. First, residents in water-scarce regions were relatively concerned about quantity, and they tended to emphasize collective policies and technologies. Second, residents of developed countries were more likely to suggest collective water policies as strategies, whereas those in developing areas stressed behavioral and technological strategies as solutions, primarily to pollution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1049-1064
Number of pages16
JournalSociety and Natural Resources
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • Cross-cultural research
  • development
  • governance
  • risk perceptions
  • water scarcity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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