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Up in Smoke: The Influence of Household Behavior on the Long-Run Impact of Improved Cooking Stoves

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  • Duflo, Esther C.
  • Hanna, Rema N.
  • Greenstone, Michael

Abstract

It is conventional wisdom that it is possible to reduce exposure to indoor air pollution, improve health outcomes, and decrease greenhouse gas emissions in the rural areas of developing countries through the adoption of improved cooking stoves. This belief is largely supported by observational field studies and engineering or laboratory experiments. However, we provide new evidence, from a randomized control trial conducted in rural Orissa, India (one of the poorest places in India), on the benefits of a commonly used improved stove that laboratory tests showed to reduce indoor air pollution and require less fuel. We track households for up to four years after they received the stove. While we find a meaningful reduction in smoke inhalation in the first year, there is no effect over longer time horizons. We find no evidence of improvements in lung functioning or health and there is no change in fuel consumption (and presumably greenhouse gas emissions). The difference between the laboratory and field findings appear to result from households’ revealed low valuation of the stoves. Households failed to use the stoves regularly or appropriately, did not make the necessary investments to maintain them properly, and usage rates ultimately declined further over time. More broadly, this study underscores the need to test environmental and health technologies in real-world settings where behavior may temper impacts, and to test them over a long enough horizon to understand how this behavioral effect evolves over time.

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Paper provided by Harvard Kennedy School of Government in its series Scholarly Articles with number 8694934.

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Date of creation: 08 May 2012
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Publication status: Published in HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series
Handle: RePEc:hrv:hksfac:8694934

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  1. Michael Kremer & Jessica Leino & Edward Miguel & Alix Peterson Zwane, 2011. "Spring Cleaning: Rural Water Impacts, Valuation, and Property Rights Institutions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(1), pages 145-205.
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  4. Oliva, Paulina & Arceo, Eva & Hanna, Rema N., 2012. "Does the Effect of Pollution on Infant Mortality Differ Between Developing and Developed Countries? Evidence from Mexico City," Scholarly Articles 9924083, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
  5. repec:emc:wpaper:dte-546 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Pascaline Dupas, 2010. "Short-Run Subsidies and Long-Run Adoption of New Health Products: Evidence from a Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 16298, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Duggan, Mark, 2005. "Do new prescription drugs pay for themselves?: The case of second-generation antipsychotics," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 1-31, January.
  8. Theresa Beltramo & David I. Levine, 2013. "The effect of solar ovens on fuel use, emissions and health: results from a randomised controlled trial," Journal of Development Effectiveness, Taylor & Francis Journals, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(2), pages 178-207, June.
  9. Eva Olimpia Arceo Gómez & Rema Hanna & Paulina Oliva, 2012. "Does the Effect of Pollution on Infant Mortality Differ Between Developed and Developing Countries? Evidence from Mexico City," Working papers, CIDE, División de Economía DTE 546, CIDE, División de Economía.
  10. Chassang, Sylvain & Padró i Miquel, Gerard & Snowberg, Erik, 2010. "Selective Trials: A Principal-Agent Approach to Randomized Controlled Experiments," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 8003, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Kenneth Y. Chay & Michael Greenstone, 2003. "Air Quality, Infant Mortality, and the Clean Air Act of 1970," NBER Working Papers 10053, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Pascaline Dupas, 2011. "Health Behavior in Developing Countries," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, Annual Reviews, vol. 3(1), pages 425-449, 09.
  13. Gunther Bensch & Jörg Peters, 2012. "A Recipe for Success? Randomized Free Distribution of Improved Cooking Stoves in Senegal," Ruhr Economic Papers, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen 0325, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
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Cited by:
  1. Janet Currie & Tom Vogl, 2012. "Early-Life Health and Adult Circumstance in Developing Countries," Working Papers, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies. 1454, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
  2. Vahlne, Niklas & Ahlgren, Erik O., 2014. "Policy implications for improved cook stove programs—A case study of the importance of village fuel use variations," Energy Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 484-495.
  3. Gunther Bensch & Jörg Peters, 2014. "The Intensive Margin of Technology Adoption - Experimental Evidence on Improved Cooking Stoves in Rural Senegal," Ruhr Economic Papers, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen 0494, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
  4. Ziebarth, Nicolas R. & Schmitt, Maike & Karlsson, Martin, 2013. "The Short-Term Population Health Effects of Weather and Pollution: Implications of Climate Change," IZA Discussion Papers 7875, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Mueller, Valerie & Pfaff, Alexander & Peabody, John & Liu, Yaping & Smith, Kirk R., 2013. "Improving stove evaluation using survey data: Who received which intervention matters," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 301-312.
  6. Jack Gregory & David I. Stern, 2012. "Fuel Choices in Rural Maharashtra," CCEP Working Papers, Centre for Climate Economics & Policy, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University 1207, Centre for Climate Economics & Policy, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
  7. Ramirez, Sebastian & Dwivedi, Puneet & Ghilardi, Adrian & Bailis, Robert, 2014. "Diffusion of non-traditional cookstoves across western Honduras: A social network analysis," Energy Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 379-389.
  8. Cho, Yoon Y. & Kalomba, Davie & Mobarak, A. Mushfiq & Orozco, Victor, 2013. "Gender Differences in the Effects of Vocational Training: Constraints on Women and Drop-Out Behavior," IZA Discussion Papers 7408, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Emla Fitzsimons & Bansi Malde & Alice Mesnard & Marcos Vera-Hernandez, 2014. "Nutrition, information, and household behaviour: experimental evidence from Malawi," IFS Working Papers, Institute for Fiscal Studies W14/02, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  10. Agurto Adrianzén, Marcos, 2013. "Improved cooking stoves and firewood consumption: Quasi-experimental evidence from the Northern Peruvian Andes," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 135-143.
  11. Grant Miller & A. Mushfiq Mobarak, 2013. "Gender Differences in Preferences, Intra-Household Externalities, and Low Demand for Improved Cookstoves," NBER Working Papers 18964, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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