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Health information, treatment, and worker productivity : experimental evidence from malaria testing and treatment among Nigerian sugarcane cutters

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  • Dillon, Andrew
  • Friedman, Jed
  • Serneels, Pieter

Abstract

Agricultural and other physically demanding sectors are important sources of growth in developing countries but prevalent diseases such as malaria adversely impact the productivity, labor supply, and choice of job tasks among workers by reducing physical capacity. This study identifies the impact of malaria on worker earnings, labor supply, and daily productivity by randomizing the temporal order at which piece-rate workers at a large sugarcane plantation in Nigeria are offered malaria testing and treatment. The results indicate a significant and substantial intent to treat effect of the intervention -- the offer of a workplace-based malaria testing and treatment program increases worker earnings by approximately 10 percent over the weeks following the offer. The study further investigates theeffect of health information by contrasting program effects by workers'revealed health status. For workers who test positive for malaria, the treatment of illness increases labor supply, leading to higher earnings. For workers who test negative, and especially for those workers most likely to be surprised by the healthy diagnosis, the health information also leads to increased earnings via increased productivity. Possible mechanisms for this response include selection into higher return tasks within the plantation as a result of changes in the perceived cost of effort. A model of the worker labor decision that allows health expectations partly to determine the supply of effort suggests that, in endemic settings with poor quality health services, inaccurate health perceptions may lead workers to suboptimal labor allocation decisions. The results underline the importance of medical treatment, but also of access to improved information about one's health status, as the absence of either may lead workers to deliver lower effort in lower return jobs.

Suggested Citation

  • Dillon, Andrew & Friedman, Jed & Serneels, Pieter, 2014. "Health information, treatment, and worker productivity : experimental evidence from malaria testing and treatment among Nigerian sugarcane cutters," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7120, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:7120
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    Cited by:

    1. Schurer, Stefanie, 2017. "Bouncing back from health shocks: Locus of control and labor supply," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 133(C), pages 1-20.
    2. Adesina, Adedoyin & Akogun, Oladele & Dillon, Andrew & Friedman, Jed & Njobdi, Sani & Serneels, Pieter, 2017. "Robustness and External Validity: What do we Learn from Repeated Study Designs over Time?," 2018 Allied Social Sciences Association (ASSA) Annual Meeting, January 5-7, 2018, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 266292, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    3. Akogun, Oladele & Dillon, Andrew & Friedman, Jed & Prasann, Ashesh & Serneels, Pieter, 2017. "Productivity and Health: Alternative Productivity Measures using Physical Activity," 2017 Annual Meeting, July 30-August 1, Chicago, Illinois 258380, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    4. Akogun, Oladele & Dillon, Andrew & Friedman, Jed & Prasann, Ashesh & Serneels, Pieter, 2017. "Productivity and Health: Alternative Productivity Estimates Using Physical Activity," IZA Discussion Papers 11115, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Schurer, Stefanie, 2014. "Bouncing Back from Health Shocks: Locus of Control, Labor Supply, and Mortality," IZA Discussion Papers 8203, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Health Monitoring&Evaluation; Disease Control&Prevention; Labor Markets; Labor Policies; Work&Working Conditions;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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