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Water, Health and Wealth

Author

Listed:
  • Nava Ashraf
  • Edward Glaeser
  • Abraham Holland
  • Bryce Millett Steinberg

Abstract

Providing clean water requires maintenance, as well as the initial connections that are typically measured. Frequently, the water supply fails in the developing world, especially when users don’t pay the marginal cost of water. This paper uses the timing of frequent, unexpected water service outages in Lusaka, Zambia to identify the short-term impacts of piped water access on contagious disease, economic activity and time use. We use microdata from the primary water utility in the city on the timing and location of supply complaints to identify outages, matched to extensive administrative data across the city. Conditional on fixed effects for time and water service district within Lusaka, we find that increases in outages are associated with increased incidence of diarrheal disease, upper respiratory infections, typhoid fever and measles. We match outages to geolocated microdata on financial transactions from the largest mobile money provider in Zambia, and find that outages cause a reduction in financial transactions. Outages also increase the time that young girls spend at their chores, possibly at the expense of time they spend doing schoolwork. Imperfect infrastructure appears to burden the poor in ways that go far beyond obvious health consequences.

Suggested Citation

  • Nava Ashraf & Edward Glaeser & Abraham Holland & Bryce Millett Steinberg, 2017. "Water, Health and Wealth," NBER Working Papers 23807, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23807
    Note: DEV HC HE LS PE
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w23807.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gramlich, Edward M, 1994. "Infrastructure Investment: A Review Essay," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(3), pages 1176-1196, September.
    2. Manisha Shah & Bryce Millett Steinberg, 2015. "Workfare and Human Capital Investment: Evidence from India," NBER Working Papers 21543, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Unknown, 2016. "Proceedings Of Abstracts," 152nd Seminar, August 30 - September 1, 2016, Novi Sad, Serbia 244068, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    4. Hunt Allcott & Allan Collard-Wexler & Stephen D. O'Connell, 2016. "How Do Electricity Shortages Affect Industry? Evidence from India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(3), pages 587-624, March.
    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. Florencia Devoto & Esther Duflo & Pascaline Dupas & William Parienté & Vincent Pons, 2012. "Happiness on Tap: Piped Water Adoption in Urban Morocco," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 68-99, November.
    7. Daniel Bennett, 2012. "Does Clean Water Make You Dirty?: Water Supply and Sanitation in the Philippines," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 47(1), pages 146-173.
    8. David Cutler & Grant Miller, 2005. "The role of public health improvements in health advances: The twentieth-century United States," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 42(1), pages 1-22, February.
    9. Karthik Muralidharan & Venkatesh Sundararaman, 2015. "Editor's Choice The Aggregate Effect of School Choice: Evidence from a Two-Stage Experiment in India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(3), pages 1011-1066.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • Q25 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Water

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