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Happiness on Tap: Piped Water Adoption in Urban Morocco

  • Devoto, Florencia
  • Duflo, Esther
  • Dupas, Pascaline
  • Parienté, William
  • Pons, Vincent

We study the demand for household water connections in urban Morocco, and the effect of such connections on household welfare. In the northern city of Tangiers, among homeowners without a private connection to the city’s water grid, a random subset was offered a simplified procedure to purchase a household connection on credit (at a zero percent interest rate). Take-up was high, at 69%. Because all households in our sample had access to the water grid through free public taps (often located fairly close to their homes), household connections did not lead to any improvement in the quality of the water households consumed; and despite significant increase in the quantity of water consumed, we find no change in the incidence of waterborne illnesses. Nevertheless, we find that households are willing to pay a substantial amount of money to have a private tap at home. Being connected generates important time gains, which are used for leisure and social activities, rather than productive activities. Because water is often a source of tension between households, household connections improve social integration and reduce conflict. Overall, within 6 months, self-reported well-being improved substantially among households in the treatment group, despite the financial cost of the connection. Our results suggest that facilitating access to credit for households to finance lump sum quality-of-life investments can significantly increase welfare, even if those investments do not result in income or health gains.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 8326.

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Date of creation: Apr 2011
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8326
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  1. Matias D. Cattaneo & Sebastian Galiani & Paul J. Gertler & Sebastian Martinez & Rocio Titiunik, 2009. "Housing, Health, and Happiness," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 75-105, February.
  2. Nava Ashraf & James Berry & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2007. "Can Higher Prices Stimulate Product Use? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Zambia," NBER Working Papers 13247, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. 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.
  4. Sebastian Galiani & Paul Gertler & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2002. "Water for Life: The Impact of the Privatization of Water Services on Child Mortality," Working Papers 54, Universidad de San Andres, Departamento de Economia, revised Sep 2005.
  5. Gamper-Rabindran, Shanti & Khan, Shakeeb & Timmins, Christopher, 2010. "The impact of piped water provision on infant mortality in Brazil: A quantile panel data approach," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(2), pages 188-200, July.
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