Providing Safe Water: Evidence from Randomized Evaluations

Posted: 19 Oct 2010

See all articles by Amrita Ahuja

Amrita Ahuja

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Michael Kremer

Harvard University - Department of Economics; Brookings Institution; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Center for Global Development; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Alix Peterson Zwane

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Date Written: October 2010

Abstract

This paper uses a public economics framework to review evidence from randomized trials on domestic water access and quality in developing countries and to assess the case for subsidies. Water treatment can cost-effectively reduce reported diarrhea. However, many consumers have low willingness to pay for cleaner water; few households purchase household water treatment under retail models. Free point-of-collection water treatment systems designed to make water treatment convenient and salient can generate take-up of approximately 60% at a projected cost as low as $20 per year of life saved, comparable to vaccine costs. In contrast, the limited existing evidence suggests that many consumers value better access to water, but it does not yet demonstrate that better access improves health. The randomized impact evaluations reviewed have also generated methodological insights on a range of topics, including (a) the role of survey effects in health data collection, (b) methods to test for sunk-cost effects, (c) divergence in revealed preference and stated preference valuation measures, and (d) parameter estimation for structural policy simulations.

Suggested Citation

Ahuja, Amrita and Kremer, Michael R. and Peterson Zwane, Alix, Providing Safe Water: Evidence from Randomized Evaluations (October 2010). Annual Review of Resource Economics, Vol. 2, Issue 1, pp. 237-256, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1694341 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev.resource.012809.103919

Amrita Ahuja (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

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Michael R. Kremer

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Brookings Institution

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Center for Global Development

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Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Alix Peterson Zwane

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation ( email )

P.O. Box 23350
Seattle, WA 98102
United States

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