Wastewater recycling has emerged as a prominent option among the various alternative sources of water in both developing and developed countries. However, the questions that need to be answered in this context are: how do communities determine which option is best for them, and what are the factors that make one water alternative more appealing than another? The aim in this paper is to understand the factors that affect wastewater management across communities that are at varying stages of economic development. From an in-depth literature review of 329 studies, the factors that determine wastewater management have been grouped together into four categories: physical, economic, institutional and environmental factors. Finally, drawing on the Environmental Kuznets Curve, a framework has been developed that combines these factors that constrain or facilitate wastewater treatment and recycling over a broad spectrum of economic settings and stages of development. The factors, their components and the methods through which relevant empirical evidence can be collected to assess them, are presented and discussed in detail. In doing this, the aim is to highlight the changing nature of the four factors which will influence long-term investments in wastewater infrastructure.