The Illusion of Sustainability
AbstractThe history of foreign development assistance is one of movement away from addressing immediate needs to a focus on the underlying causes of poverty. A recent manifestation is the move towards “sustainability,” which stresses community mobilization, education, and cost-recovery. This stands in contrast to the traditional economic analysis of development projects, with its focus on providing public goods and correcting externalities. We examine evidence from randomized evaluations on strategies for combating intestinal worms, which affect one in four people worldwide. Providing medicine to treat worms was extremely cost effective, although medicine must be provided twice per year indefinitely to keep children worm-free. An effort to promote sustainability by educating Kenyan schoolchildren on worm prevention was ineffective, and a “mobilization” intervention from psychology failed to boost de-worming drug take-up. Take-up was highly sensitive to drug cost: a small increase in cost led to an 80percent reduction in take-up (relative to free treatment). The results suggest that, in the context we examine, the pursuit of sustainability may be an illusion, and that in the short-run, at least, external subsidies will remain necessary.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Center for Global Development in its series Working Papers with number 35.
Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2004
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Web page: http://www.cgdev.org
foreign development assistance; poverty; sustainability; public good; externality; subsidy;
Other versions of this item:
- Michael Kremer & Edward Miguel, 2004. "The Illusion of Sustainability," NBER Working Papers 10324, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Kremer, Michael Robert & Miguel, Edward A., 2004. "The Illusion of Sustainability," Center for International and Development Economics Research, Working Paper Series qt94p8w1d7, Center for International and Development Economics Research, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
- O15 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
- H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
- H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
- H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
- F35 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Aid
- I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
- I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Production
- I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2006-09-03 (All new papers)
- NEP-MKT-2006-09-03 (Marketing)
- NEP-PBE-2006-09-03 (Public Economics)
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