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The Economic Consequences of Increasing Sleep Among the Urban Poor

Author

Listed:
  • Pedro Bessone
  • Gautam Rao
  • Frank Schilbach
  • Heather Schofield
  • Mattie Toma

Abstract

This paper measures sleep among the urban poor in India and estimates the economic returns to increased sleep. Adults in Chennai have strikingly low quantity and quality of sleep relative to typical guidelines: despite spending 8 hours in bed, they achieve only 5.6 hours per night of sleep, with 32 awakenings per night. A three-week treatment providing information, encouragement, and sleep-related items increased sleep quantity by 27 minutes per night without improving sleep quality. Increased night sleep had no detectable effects on cognition, productivity, decision-making, or psychological and physical well-being, and led to small decreases in labor supply and thus earnings. In contrast, offering high-quality naps at the workplace increased productivity, cognition, psychological well-being, and patience. Taken together, the returns to increased night sleep are low, at least at the low-quality levels typically available in home environments in Chennai. We find suggestive evidence that higher-quality sleep improves important economic and psychological outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Pedro Bessone & Gautam Rao & Frank Schilbach & Heather Schofield & Mattie Toma, 2020. "The Economic Consequences of Increasing Sleep Among the Urban Poor," NBER Working Papers 26746, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26746
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D9 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics
    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure

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