Identifying the Cost of a Public Health Success: Arsenic Well Water Contamination and Productivity in Bangladesh

83 Pages Posted: 23 Nov 2015

See all articles by Mark M. Pitt

Mark M. Pitt

Brown University

Mark R. Rosenzweig

Yale University - Economic Growth Center; Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Nazmul Hassan

University of Dhaka

Date Written: November 2015

Abstract

We exploit recent molecular genetics evidence on the genetic basis of arsenic excretion and unique information on family links among respondents living in different environments from a large panel survey within a theoretical framework incorporating optimizing behavior to uncover the hidden costs of arsenic poisoning in Bangladesh. We provide for the first time estimates of the effects of the ingestion and retention of inorganic arsenic on direct measures of cognitive and physical capabilities as well as on the schooling attainment, occupational structure, entrepreneurship and incomes of the rural Bangladesh population. We also provide new estimates of the effects of the consumption of foods grown and cooked in arsenic-contaminated water on individual arsenic concentrations. The estimates are based on arsenic biomarkers obtained from a sample of members of rural households in Bangladesh who are participants in a long-term panel survey following respondents and their coresident household members over a period of 26 years.

Suggested Citation

Pitt, Mark M. and Rosenzweig, Mark Richard and Hassan, Nazmul, Identifying the Cost of a Public Health Success: Arsenic Well Water Contamination and Productivity in Bangladesh (November 2015). NBER Working Paper No. w21741. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2694388

Mark M. Pitt (Contact Author)

Brown University ( email )

Box B
Providence, RI 02912
United States
401-863-2970 (Phone)
401-863-1970 (Fax)

Mark Richard Rosenzweig

Yale University - Economic Growth Center ( email )

Box 208269
New Haven, CT 06520-8269
United States
203-432-3620 (Phone)

Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Box 208281
New Haven, CT 06520-8281
United States

Nazmul Hassan

University of Dhaka ( email )

University of Dhaka
Ramna, Dhaka, 1000
Bangladesh

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