IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Estimating the Impact of Means-tested Subsidies under Treatment Externalities with Application to Anti-Malarial Bednets


  • Debopam Bhattacharya
  • Pascaline Dupas
  • Shin Kanaya


Regular use of effective health-products such as insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITN) by a household benefits its neighbors by (a) reducing chances of infection and (b) raising awareness about product-effectiveness, thereby increasing product-use. Due to their potential social benefits and high purchase price, causing free-riding and sub-optimal private procurement, such products may be subsidized in developing countries through means-testing. Owing to associated spillover effects, cost-benefit analysis of such subsidies requires modelling behavioral responses of both the subsidized household and its neighbors. Using experimental data from Kenya where subsidies were randomized, coupled with GPS-based location information, we show how to estimate aggregate ITN use resulting from means-tested subsidies in the presence of such spatial spillovers. Accounting for spillovers introduces infinite-dimensional estimated regressors corresponding to continuously distributed location coordinates and makes the inference problem novel. We show that even if individual ITN use unambiguously increases with increasing incidence of subsidy in the neighborhood, ignoring spillovers may over- or under-predict overall ITN use resulting from a specific targeting rule, depending on the resulting aggregate incidence of subsidy. Applying our method to the Kenyan data, we find that (i) individual ITN use rises with neighborhood subsidy-rates, (ii) under means-testing, predicted ITN use is a convex increasing function of the subsidy incidence and (iii) ignoring spillovers implies a nearly-linear increasing relationship leading to over-estimation of ITN use at lower and under-estimation at higher subsidy rates.

Suggested Citation

  • Debopam Bhattacharya & Pascaline Dupas & Shin Kanaya, 2013. "Estimating the Impact of Means-tested Subsidies under Treatment Externalities with Application to Anti-Malarial Bednets," NBER Working Papers 18833, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18833
    Note: CH DEV TWP

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mammen, Enno & Rothe, Christoph & Schienle, Melanie, 2016. "Semiparametric Estimation With Generated Covariates," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 32(05), pages 1140-1177, October.
    2. Keisuke Hirano & Jack R. Porter, 2009. "Asymptotics for Statistical Treatment Rules," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(5), pages 1683-1701, September.
    3. Andrews, Donald W K, 1994. "Asymptotics for Semiparametric Econometric Models via Stochastic Equicontinuity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(1), pages 43-72, January.
    4. Scott E. Carrell & Bruce I. Sacerdote & James E. West, 2011. "From Natural Variation to Optimal Policy? The Lucas Critique Meets Peer Effects," NBER Working Papers 16865, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Xiaohong Chen & Oliver Linton & Ingrid Van Keilegom, 2003. "Estimation of Semiparametric Models when the Criterion Function Is Not Smooth," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(5), pages 1591-1608, September.
    6. Shin Kanaya, 2015. "Uniform Convergence Rates of Kernel-Based Nonparametric Estimators for Continuous Time Diffusion Processes: A Damping Function Approach," CREATES Research Papers 2015-50, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
    7. Timothy G. Conley & Christopher R. Udry, 2010. "Learning about a New Technology: Pineapple in Ghana," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 35-69, March.
    8. White,Halbert, 1996. "Estimation, Inference and Specification Analysis," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521574464, March.
    9. Bhattacharya, Debopam, 2009. "Inferring Optimal Peer Assignment From Experimental Data," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 104(486), pages 486-500.
    10. Tetenov, Aleksey, 2012. "Statistical treatment choice based on asymmetric minimax regret criteria," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 166(1), pages 157-165.
    11. Oriana Bandiera & Imran Rasul, 2006. "Social Networks and Technology Adoption in Northern Mozambique," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(514), pages 869-902, October.
    12. Kong, Efang & Linton, Oliver & Xia, Yingcun, 2010. "Uniform Bahadur Representation For Local Polynomial Estimates Of M-Regression And Its Application To The Additive Model," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 26(05), pages 1529-1564, October.
    13. Hudgens, Michael G. & Halloran, M. Elizabeth, 2008. "Toward Causal Inference With Interference," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 103, pages 832-842, June.
    14. Newey, Whitney K, 1994. "The Asymptotic Variance of Semiparametric Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(6), pages 1349-1382, November.
    15. Hansen, Bruce E., 2008. "Uniform Convergence Rates For Kernel Estimation With Dependent Data," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 24(03), pages 726-748, June.
    16. Stoye, Jörg, 2009. "Minimax regret treatment choice with finite samples," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 151(1), pages 70-81, July.
    17. Dehejia, Rajeev H., 2005. "Program evaluation as a decision problem," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 125(1-2), pages 141-173.
    18. Pascaline Dupas, 2009. "What Matters (and What Does Not) in Households' Decision to Invest in Malaria Prevention?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 224-230, May.
    19. Bhattacharya, Debopam & Dupas, Pascaline, 2012. "Inferring welfare maximizing treatment assignment under budget constraints," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 167(1), pages 168-196.
    20. Charles F. Manski, 2004. "Statistical Treatment Rules for Heterogeneous Populations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(4), pages 1221-1246, July.
    21. Edward Miguel & Michael Kremer, 2004. "Worms: Identifying Impacts on Education and Health in the Presence of Treatment Externalities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(1), pages 159-217, January.
    22. Rosenbaum, Paul R., 2007. "Interference Between Units in Randomized Experiments," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 102, pages 191-200, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Rokhaya Dieye & Habiba Djebbari & Felipe Barrera-Osorio, 2014. "Accounting for Peer Effects in Treatment Response," AMSE Working Papers 1435, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, Marseille, France, revised Jul 2014.
    2. Debopam Bhattacharya, 2015. "Nonparametric Welfare Analysis for Discrete Choice," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 83, pages 617-649, March.
    3. Pascaline Dupas & Edward Miguel, 2016. "Impacts and Determinants of Health Levels in Low-Income Countries," NBER Working Papers 22235, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C01 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - General - - - Econometrics
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods
    • H51 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Health
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18833. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.