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Arsenic Mitigation in Bangladesh: A Household Labor Market Approach

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  • Richard T. Carson
  • Phoebe Koundouri
  • Céline Nauges

Abstract

A major environmental tragedy of modern times is the widespread arsenic contamination of shallow drinking water wells in Bangladesh. High levels of arsenic present in many wells went unrecognized for years. Now large numbers of people show a range of symptoms associated with chronic arsenic exposure. Most of the economics literature follows an epidemiological approach effectively monetizing a dose response relation. We take a different approach, given widespread exposure, and examine impacts on household labor supply. We find significant effects broadly consistent with available epidemiological information in terms of the percent of the population impacted and which demographic groups are most impacted. The nature of the arsenic contamination provides a high quality statistical instrument that identifies a labor supply reduction of over 8%. Particular attention is paid to large substitution effects involving within household labor supply as this is the primary means of insurance among poor households in developing countries.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Agricultural and Applied Economics Association in its journal American Journal of Agricultural Economics.

Volume (Year): 93 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 407-414

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Handle: RePEc:oup:ajagec:v:93:y:2010:i:2:p:407-414

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  1. Thomas, D. & Strauss, J., 1997. "Health and Wages: Evidence on Men and Women in Urban Brazil," Papers 97-05, RAND - Reprint Series.
  2. Paul Gertler & Jonathan Gruber, 1998. "Insuring Consumption Against Illness," JCPR Working Papers 41, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  3. Jalan, Jyotsna & Ravallion, Martin, 1997. "Are the poor less well-insured? Evidence on vulnerability to income risk in rural China," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1863, The World Bank.
  4. Skoufias, Emmanuel & Quisumbing, Agnes R., 2003. "Consumption insurance and vulnerability to poverty," FCND briefs 155, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  5. Harsha Thirumurthy & Joshua Graff Zivin & Markus Goldstein, 2007. "AIDS Treatment and Intrahousehold Resource Allocations: Children's Nutrition and Schooling in Kenya," Working Papers 105, Center for Global Development.
  6. Skoufias, Emmanuel & Quisumbing, Agnes R., 2004. "Consumption insurance and vulnerability to poverty : a synthesis of the evidence from Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Mali, Mexico and Russia," Social Protection Discussion Papers 29141, The World Bank.
  7. Pitt, Mark M & Rosenzweig, Mark R, 1990. "Estimating the Intrahousehold Incidence of Illness: Child Health and Gender-Inequality in the Allocation of Time," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 31(4), pages 969-80, November.
  8. Madajewicz, Malgosia & Pfaff, Alexander & van Geen, Alexander & Graziano, Joseph & Hussein, Iftikhar & Momotaj, Hasina & Sylvi, Roksana & Ahsan, Habibul, 2007. "Can information alone change behavior? Response to arsenic contamination of groundwater in Bangladesh," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 731-754, November.
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Cited by:
  1. Joshua Graff Zivin & Matthew Neidell, 2012. "The Impact of Pollution on Worker Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(7), pages 3652-73, December.
  2. Joshua Graff Zivin & Matthew Neidell, 2013. "Environment, Health, and Human Capital," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(3), pages 689-730, September.
  3. Tom Chang & Joshua S. Graff Zivin & Tal Gross & Matthew J. Neidell, 2014. "Particulate Pollution and the Productivity of Pear Packers," NBER Working Papers 19944, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Stefano Bosi & David Desmarchelier & Lionel Ragot, 2013. "Pollution effects on labor supply and growth," CEEES Paper Series CE3S-05/13, European University at St. Petersburg, Department of Economics.

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