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The importance of being informed: Experimental evidence on demand for environmental quality

  • Jalan, Jyotsna
  • Somanathan, E.

To what extent does information affect the demand for environmental quality? A randomly selected group of households in an Indian city were informed whether or not their drinking water had tested positive for fecal contamination using a simple, inexpensive test kit. Households initially not purifying their water and told that their drinking water was possibly contaminated, were 11 percentage points more likely to begin some form of home purification in the next eight weeks than households that received no information. They spent $7.24 (at PPP) more on purification than control households. By way of comparison, an additional year of schooling of the most educated male in the household is associated with a 3 percentage-point rise in the probability of initial purification, while a standard-deviation increase in the wealth index is associated with a 12 percentage-point rise in this probability and an $11.75 rise in expenditure. Initially purifying households that received a "no contamination" result did not react by reducing purification. These results suggest that estimates of the demand for environment quality that assume full information may significantly under-estimate it.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Development Economics.

Volume (Year): 87 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 (August)
Pages: 14-28

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Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:87:y:2008:i:1:p:14-28
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/devec

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  1. repec:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-4628502 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Jyotsna Jalan & E. Somanathan & Saraswata Choudhuri, . "Awareness and the Demand for Environmental Quality: Drinking Water in Urban India," Working papers 32, The South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics.
  3. 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.
  4. Dasgupta, Purnamita, 2004. "Valuing health damages from water pollution in urban Delhi, India: a health production function approach," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(01), pages 83-106, February.
  5. Charles W. Abdalla & Brian A. Roach & Donald J. Epp, 1992. "Valuing Environmental Quality Changes Using Averting Expenditures: An Application to Groundwater Contamination," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 68(2), pages 163-169.
  6. Simone Borghesi, 1999. "The Environmental Kuznets Curve: a Survey of the Literature," Working Papers 1999.85, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  7. Smith, V Kerry & Desvousges, William H & Payne, John W, 1995. "Do Risk Information Programs Promote Mitigating Behavior?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 10(3), pages 203-21, May.
  8. Harrington, Winston & Krupnick, Alan J. & Spofford, Walter Jr., 1989. "The economic losses of a waterborne disease outbreak," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 116-137, January.
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