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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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  • Rema Hanna
  • Esther Duflo
  • Michael Greenstone

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 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18033.

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Date of creation: May 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18033

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References

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  1. Gunther Bensch & Jörg Peters, 2012. "A Recipe for Success? Randomized Free Distribution of Improved Cooking Stoves in Senegal," Ruhr Economic Papers 0325, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
  2. 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, vol. 5(2), pages 178-207, June.
  3. Sylvain Chassang & Gerard Padro I Miquel & Erik Snowberg, 2012. "Selective Trials: A Principal-Agent Approach to Randomized Controlled Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(4), pages 1279-1309, June.
  4. Currie, Janet & Neidell, Matthew, 2004. "Air Pollution and Infant Health: What Can We Learn From California's Recent Experience?," IZA Discussion Papers 1056, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
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  8. Pascaline Dupas, 2014. "Short‐Run Subsidies and Long‐Run Adoption of New Health Products: Evidence From a Field Experiment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 82(1), pages 197-228, 01.
  9. Kenneth Y. Chay & Michael Greenstone, 2003. "Air Quality, Infant Mortality, and the Clean Air Act of 1970," Working Papers 0406, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research.
  10. Arceo, Eva & Hanna, Rema & Oliva, Paulina, 2012. "Does the Effect of Pollution on Infant Mortality Differ between Developing and Developed Countries? Evidence from Mexico City," Working Paper Series rwp12-050, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  11. Duggan, Mark, 2005. "Do new prescription drugs pay for themselves?: The case of second-generation antipsychotics," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 1-31, January.
  12. 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 DTE 546, CIDE, División de Economía.
  13. Pascaline Dupas, 2011. "Health Behavior in Developing Countries," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 3(1), pages 425-449, 09.
  14. Kenneth Y. Chay & Michael Greenstone, 2003. "The Impact Of Air Pollution On Infant Mortality: Evidence From Geographic Variation In Pollution Shocks Induced By A Recession," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1121-1167, August.
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Cited by:
  1. Nicolas R. Ziebarth & Maike Schmitt & Martin Karlsson, 2014. "The Short-Term Population Health Effects of Weather and Pollution: Implications of Climate Change," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 646, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  2. Agurto Adrianzén, Marcos, 2013. "Improved cooking stoves and firewood consumption: Quasi-experimental evidence from the Northern Peruvian Andes," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 135-143.
  3. 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, vol. 93(C), pages 301-312.
  4. Ramirez, Sebastian & Dwivedi, Puneet & Ghilardi, Adrian & Bailis, Robert, 2014. "Diffusion of non-traditional cookstoves across western Honduras: A social network analysis," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 379-389.
  5. 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).
  6. 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.
  7. Jack Gregory & David I. Stern, 2012. "Fuel Choices in Rural Maharashtra," CCEP Working Papers 1207, Centre for Climate Economics & Policy, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
  8. Janet Currie & Tom Vogl, 2012. "Early-Life Health and Adult Circumstance in Developing Countries," Working Papers 1454, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
  9. Emla Fitzsimons & Bansi Malde & Alice Mesnard & Marcos Vera-Hernandez, 2014. "Nutrition, information, and household behaviour: experimental evidence from Malawi," IFS Working Papers W14/02, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  10. 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, vol. 66(C), pages 484-495.

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