Arsenic Contamination of Drinking Water and Mental Health

DEF - Discussion Papers on Development Policy No. 222

43 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2016

See all articles by Shyamal Chowdhury

Shyamal Chowdhury

The University of Sydney

Annabelle Krause

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Klaus F. Zimmermann

Harvard University; German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin); University of Bonn; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 1, 2016

Abstract

This paper investigates the effect of drinking arsenic contaminated water on mental health. Drinking water with an unsafe arsenic level for a prolonged period can lead to arsenicosis and associated illness. Based on rich and newly collected household survey data from Bangladesh, we construct several measures for arsenic contamination that include the actual arsenic level in the respondent’s tubewell (TW), and past institutional arsenic test results as well as their physical and mental health. To account for potential endogeneity of water source, we take advantage of the quasi-randomness of arsenic distribution and employ the pre-1999 use of TW as an instrument and structural modelling as alternatives for robustness checks. We find that suffering from an arsenicosis symptom is strongly negatively related to mental health, even more so than from other illnesses. Calculations of the costs of arsenic contamination reveal that the average individual would need to be compensated for suffering from an arsenicosis symptom by an amount of money over 10 percent of annual household income.

Keywords: Arsenic, Water Pollution, Mental Health, Subjective Well-Being, Environment, Bangladesh

JEL Classification: Q53, I10, I31

Suggested Citation

Chowdhury, Shyamal and Krause, Annabelle and Zimmermann, Klaus F., Arsenic Contamination of Drinking Water and Mental Health (July 1, 2016). DEF - Discussion Papers on Development Policy No. 222. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2811583 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2811583

Shyamal Chowdhury (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney ( email )

University of Sydney
Sydney, NC NSW 2006
Australia

Annabelle Krause

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

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

Klaus F. Zimmermann

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin)

Mohrenstraße 58
Berlin, 10117
Germany

University of Bonn

Postfach 2220
Bonn, D-53012
Germany

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

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