Project A1-2 (MSU): Impacts of changes in climate, demographics, and urban form on water supply-demand equilibrium, economic growth, and social equity


Elizabeth Mack, PhD

Michigan State University
Department of Geography

This project evaluates the economic impacts of water price increases on household income, regional income, and regional employment. Impacts on business output will also be estimated. This is important to consider given pressures on urban water systems such as aging infrastructure, growing populations, and climate change.  These pressures mean that water costs will rise and place economic strains on businesses and households.


A1-2 Modeling graphic


From the business side, higher water costs could lead to increases in prices of inputs and salaries, and a lower willingness (and ability to pay) for business outputs by households. This strain on business outputs means that businesses may have to hire fewer workers. In other words, there is a vicious cycle between many elements of water: water supply, water demand, water prices, business income, and household income.

This project will try to understand and map the nature and magnitude of these feedback effects to better understand the impacts of water price trends on regional economics.


  • Water rate data by provider
  • Information about consumer responses (in terms of spending) to changes in water prices
  • Information about perceptions of water rates



Information about water rates and water rate trends will be used to understand variations in water rates within and across regions.

This project will work in tandem with Colorado State University and the IUWM (Project B1-1) to provide not only supply and demand forecasts for urban regions, but also identify the welfare impacts of particular policies and programs on communities and groups of interest.  This project will produce several deliverable materials including:

  • Academic papers
  • Data describing economic impact for all UWIN study regions
  • Maps describing magnitude of economic impacts by region


Journal Articles

Credit, K. and E.A. Mack. (2019). A Multi-Regional Input-Output (MRIO) Analytical Framework For Assessing The Regional Economic Impacts of Rising Water Prices. The Review of Regional StudiesVol. 49, Issue 2, 2019 August 27, 2019

Mack, E.A. and S. Wrase. (2017). A Burgeoning Crisis? A Nationwide Assessment of the Geography of Water Affordability in the United States. PLoS ONE 12(1): e0169488. doi  

Mack, E. A., Wrase, S., Dahme, J., Crosby, S. M., Davis, M., Wright, M., & Muhammad, R. (2020). An Experiment in Making Water Affordable: Philadelphia’s Tiered Assistance Program (TAP). JAWRA Journal of the American Water Resources Association.

Medwid, L. and E.A. Mack**. (2020). A Scenario-based Approach for Understanding Changes in Consumer Spending Behavior in Response to Rising Water Bills International Regional Science Review. DOI: 10.1177/0160017620942812

Medwid, L., & Mack, E. A. (2022). An Analysis of Household Perceptions of Water Costs across the United States: A Survey Based Approach. Water14(2), 247.

White, J. Mack. E,A.**, Harlan, S., Krayenhoff, S. Georgescu, M. and K. Redican. (2019). Regional Multivariate Indices of Water Use Potential for the Continental United States. Sustainability. 11(8): 2292

White, J.D.; Mack, E.A.; Harlan, S.L.; Krayenhoff, E.S.; Georgescu, M.; Redican, K. Regional Multivariate Indices of Water Use Potential for the Continental United States. Sustainability 201911, 2292. Status = published, Acknowledgement = yes. Peer-reviewed=yes.

Updated: October 2022

News Articles

Affordable water in the US: A burgeoning crisis

Affordable Water May Soon Dry Up: Especially if you live here


Related Materials



Additional Resources

  • Elizabeth Mack Pesonal Website:
  • Elizabeth Mack Mack Twitter Handle: @mack_entrep





Elizabeth Mack, PhD – Principal Investigator

Associate Professor
Michigan State University
Voice: (513) 432-7058,

Elizabeth Mack is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at Michigan State University where she teaches courses in economic geography. She is also a research affiliate of the GeoDa Center for Geospatial Analysis and Computation. Dr. Mack’s research program evaluates the impact of information and communications technologies (ICTs) on the development trajectory of regional economies. This research program includes broadband infrastructure deployment policy issues as well as the impacts of broadband on business location. Recently, Dr. Mack’s work is focused on understanding entrepreneurial ecosystems and the enabling role of broadband Internet connections in the new venture creation process.



Sarah Wrase, Graduate Student

Michigan State University