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Arsenic contamination of drinking water and mental health

Author

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  • Chowdhury, Shyamal

    () (School of Economics, University of Sydney)

  • Krause, Annabelle

    () (IZA, Bonn)

  • Zimmermann, Klaus F.

    () (UNU-MERIT, Maastricht University, and Harvard University)

Abstract

This paper investigates the effect of drinking arsenic contaminated water on mental health. Drinking water with an unsafe arsenic level for a prolonged period can lead to arsenicosis and associated illness. Based on rich and newly collected household survey data from Bangladesh, we construct several measures for arsenic contamination that include the actual arsenic level in the respondent's tube well (TW), and past institutional arsenic test results as well as their physical and mental health. To account for potential endogeneity of water source, we take advantage of the quasi-randomness of arsenic distribution and employ the pre-1999 use of TW as an instrument and structural modelling as alternatives for robustness checks. We find that suffering from an arsenicosis symptom is strongly negatively related to mental health, even more so than from other illnesses. Calculations of the costs of arsenic contamination reveal that the average individual would need to be compensated for suffering from an arsenicosis symptom by an amount of money over 10 percent of annual household income.

Suggested Citation

  • Chowdhury, Shyamal & Krause, Annabelle & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2016. "Arsenic contamination of drinking water and mental health," MERIT Working Papers 037, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  • Handle: RePEc:unm:unumer:2016037
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    File URL: https://www.merit.unu.edu/publications/wppdf/2016/wp2016-037.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:eee:jeeman:v:86:y:2017:i:c:p:160-192 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Elsner, Benjamin & Wozny, Florian, 2018. "The Human Capital Cost of Radiation: Long-Run Evidence from Exposure Outside the Womb," IZA Discussion Papers 11408, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Klaus F. Zimmermann, 2016. "Health shocks and well-being," The Indian Journal of Labour Economics, Springer;The Indian Society of Labour Economics (ISLE), vol. 59(1), pages 155-164, March.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Arsenic; Water Pollution; Mental Health; Subjective Well-Being; Environment; Bangladesh;

    JEL classification:

    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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