Neighbors Can Make You Sick: Hygiene, Sanitation and Health
46 Pages Posted: 2 Jan 2014
Date Written: March 2, 2008
While the first order effects of access to clean water and of personal hygiene and sanitation on health have been well documented, the effects of community hygiene and sanitation, along with personal hygiene and sanitation, have not been comprehensively studied. In this paper, incorporating the features of models from agricultural household (Bardhan and Udry, 1999) and reciprocal externalities (Dasgupta, 1993), we present a simple model of health externalities of households' hygiene and sanitation, showing how the choices of one household affects ill-health incidences of other households. Then using micro level survey data of 1,530 households in rural Uttarakhand, India, we show that both household and community hygiene are significant inputs in the determination of households' ill-health incidences (i.e. diarrhea, cholera, typhoid, dysentery, worm infestation and jaundice), with the latter having greater impact than the former, over and above effects attributable to households' socioeconomic status. That is, there is a large health externality of a household's hygiene and sanitation. In the presence of such health externality of households' hygiene and sanitation, which is strongly associated with the access to safe water, universal access to safe water may be required to combat water-related illnesses. This implies that the governments' consideration of alternative proposals to improve water services must be informed by health externalities in households' hygiene and sanitation, and in the provision of water across communities.
Keywords: health, water, hygiene behavior, health externality, and poverty
JEL Classification: D60, H51, I10, I33, O12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation