Conflicts over water resources are common on international rivers. This paper investigates the impact of upstream dams on downstream countries, focusing on Chinese dams located at the Chinese border along the Mekong River. Using Machine Learning and difference-in-difference identification strategy, we find that upstream dams stabilize downstream water discharge and levels across seasons, and improve downstream agricultural efficiency. Furthermore, we identify conditions that give rise to both conflict and collaboration during times of water scarcity. Our finding emphasizes the importance of upstream countries assuming responsibility for the effects of climate change and of enhanced international coordination in managing international rivers.
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