Neighbors Can Make You Sick: Hygiene, Sanitation and Health

46 Pages Posted: 2 Jan 2014  

Anand Murugesan

University of Maryland

Tauhidur Rahman

University of Arizona - Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics

Vikram Dayal

University of Delhi - Institute of Economic Growth (IEG)

Date Written: March 2, 2008

Abstract

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

Murugesan, Anand and Rahman, Tauhidur and Dayal, Vikram, Neighbors Can Make You Sick: Hygiene, Sanitation and Health (March 2, 2008). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2373894 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2373894

Anand Murugesan

University of Maryland ( email )

College Park
College Park, MD 20742
United States

Tauhidur Rahman (Contact Author)

University of Arizona - Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics ( email )

P. O. Box 210023
Tucson, AZ 85721-0023
United States
(520) 621-8657 (Phone)
(520) 621-6250 (Fax)

Vikram Dayal

University of Delhi - Institute of Economic Growth (IEG) ( email )

Delhi, 110007
India

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