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Arsenic Mitigation in Bangladesh: A Household 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 Toulouse School of Economics (TSE) in its series TSE Working Papers with number 09-106.

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Date of creation: Oct 2009
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Handle: RePEc:tse:wpaper:22206
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  1. 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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  8. 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.
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  10. 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.
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