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Health Information, Treatment, and Worker Productivity: Experimental Evidence from Malaria Testing and Treatment Among Nigerian Sugarcane Cutters

48 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016  

Andrew Dillon

Michigan State University

Jed Friedman

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG); World Bank Group

Pieter M. Serneels

University of East Anglia (UEA)

Date Written: November 1, 2014

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 the effect 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.

Keywords: Communicable Diseases, Leprosy, Malaria, Social Capital, Cholera

Suggested Citation

Dillon, Andrew and Friedman, Jed and Serneels, Pieter M., Health Information, Treatment, and Worker Productivity: Experimental Evidence from Malaria Testing and Treatment Among Nigerian Sugarcane Cutters (November 1, 2014). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 7120. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2530254

Andrew Dillon (Contact Author)

Michigan State University ( email )

Agriculture Hall
East Lansing, MI 48824-1122
United States

Jed Arnold Friedman

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

1818 H. Street, N.W.
MSN3-311
Washington, DC 20433
United States

World Bank Group ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Pieter M. Serneels

University of East Anglia (UEA) ( email )

Norwich Research Park
Norwich, Norfolk NR4 7TJ
United Kingdom

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