Public versus Private Investment in Determining Child Health Outcomes: Evidence from India

Arthaniti: Journal of Economic Theory and Practice

45 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2015 Last revised: 11 May 2019

See all articles by Divya Balasubramaniam

Divya Balasubramaniam

Saint Joseph's University

Santanu Chatterjee

University of Georgia - C. Herman and Mary Virginia Terry College of Business - Department of Economics

David B. Mustard

University of Georgia - C. Herman and Mary Virginia Terry College of Business - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; University of Georgia Law School

Date Written: May 08, 2019

Abstract

This paper examines the relationship between access to drinking water, sanitation facilities, and health outcomes for children in India. We use the NFHS 2005-2006 household-level survey data to construct the nutritional distribution for two anthropometric health measures for children between ages six months to two years: the weight-for-height (“wasting”) and height-for-age (“stunting”) z-scores. Using a quantile regressions approach, we find that public goods such as piped water are not associated with improving child health outcomes. On the other hand, private investments within the home such as pit latrines and flush toilets do have a strong influence on health outcomes, with the magnitude of the effects being the largest in the middle of the respective nutritional distributions. Further, rural children at the lower end of the nutritional distribution benefit much more than their urban counterparts. Also, the educational attainment of the mother has a strong association with better health outcomes, both in the short run as well as the long run. Overall, our results provide evidence against “one size fits all” policies, and point towards incentives for private investments in sanitation and mother’s education, especially in rural areas and for children in the middle of the conditional nutritional distribution.

Keywords: Water, Sanitation, Pit Latrines, Flush Toilets, Education, India, Malnutrition, Wasting, Stunting, Quantile Regressions

JEL Classification: O1, O5, H4, I1

Suggested Citation

Balasubramaniam, Divya and Chatterjee, Santanu and Mustard, David B., Public versus Private Investment in Determining Child Health Outcomes: Evidence from India (May 08, 2019). Arthaniti: Journal of Economic Theory and Practice. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2658319 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2658319

Divya Balasubramaniam

Saint Joseph's University ( email )

5600 City Avenue,
Philadelphia, PA 19131
United States

Santanu Chatterjee (Contact Author)

University of Georgia - C. Herman and Mary Virginia Terry College of Business - Department of Economics ( email )

Department of Economics
University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602
United States
706-542-1709 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/view/schatterjee/home

David B. Mustard

University of Georgia - C. Herman and Mary Virginia Terry College of Business - Department of Economics ( email )

Athens, GA 30602-6254
United States
706-542-3624 (Phone)
706-542-3376 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.terry.uga.edu/~dmustard/

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

University of Georgia Law School

225 Herty Drive
Athens, GA 30602
United States

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