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Arsenic Mitigation in Bangladesh: A Houseold Labor Market Approach

  • Carson, Richard T
  • Koundouri, Phoebe
  • Nauges, Céline

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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Paper provided by Department of Economics, UC San Diego in its series University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series with number qt5112208j.

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Date of creation: 01 Nov 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucsdec:qt5112208j
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  1. Paul Gertler & Jonathan Gruber, 1997. "Insuring Consumption Against Illness," NBER Working Papers 6035, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Pitt, Mark M & Rosenzweig, Mark R & Hassan, Md Nazmul, 1990. "Productivity, Health, and Inequality in the Intrahousehold Distribution of Food in Low-Income Countries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(5), pages 1139-56, December.
  3. Giovanna d’Adda & Markus Goldstein & Joshua Zivin & Mabel Nangami & Harsha Thirumurthy, 2009. "ARV Treatment and Time Allocation to Household Tasks: Evidence from Kenya," African Development Review, African Development Bank, vol. 21(1), pages 180-208.
  4. Jalan, Jyotsna & Ravallion, Martin, 1999. "Are the poor less well insured? Evidence on vulnerability to income risk in rural China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 61-81, February.
  5. Thomas, Duncan & Strauss, John, 1997. "Health and wages: Evidence on men and women in urban Brazil," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 159-185, March.
  6. Skoufias, Emmanuel & Quisumbing, Agnes R., 2003. "Consumption insurance and vulnerability to poverty," FCND discussion papers 155, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  7. Zivin, Joshua Graff & Thirumurthy, Harsha & Goldstein, Markus, 2009. "AIDS treatment and intrahousehold resource allocation: Children's nutrition and schooling in Kenya," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(7-8), pages 1008-1015, August.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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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