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Sanitation, Disease Externalities, and Anemia: Evidence from Nepal

48 Pages Posted: 10 Dec 2016  

Diane Coffey

Research Institute for Compassionate Economics (r.i.c.e.)

Michael Geruso

University of Texas at Austin; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Dean Spears

University of Texas at Austin; Economics and Planning Unit, ISI-Delhi; r.i.c.e.

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Date Written: December 8, 2016

Abstract

Anemia impairs physical and cognitive development in children and reduces human capital accumulation. The prior economics literature has focused on the role of inadequate nutrition in causing anemia. This paper is the first to show that sanitation, a public good, significantly contributes to preventing anemia. We identify effects by exploiting rapid and differential improvement in sanitation across regions of Nepal between 2006 and 2011. Within regions over time, cohorts of children exposed to better community sanitation developed higher hemoglobin levels. Our results highlight a previously undocumented externality of open defecation, which is today practiced by over a billion people worldwide.

Keywords: anemia, sanitation, open defecation

JEL Classification: I15, H41, O12, J10

Suggested Citation

Coffey, Diane and Geruso, Michael and Spears, Dean, Sanitation, Disease Externalities, and Anemia: Evidence from Nepal (December 8, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2882367

Diane Coffey

Research Institute for Compassionate Economics (r.i.c.e.) ( email )

New Delhi
India

Michael Geruso (Contact Author)

University of Texas at Austin ( email )

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Dean Spears

University of Texas at Austin ( email )

Austin, TX 78712
United States

Economics and Planning Unit, ISI-Delhi ( email )

7 S .J. S.
Sansanwal Marg
New Delhi, 110016
India

r.i.c.e.

New Delhi
India

HOME PAGE: http://www.riceinstitute.org

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