Throwing the Baby Out with the Drinking Water: Unintended Consequences of Arsenic Mitigation Efforts in Bangladesh

21 Pages Posted: 8 Apr 2019

See all articles by Nina Buchmann

Nina Buchmann

Stanford University

Erica Field

Duke University, Fuqua School of Business-Economics Group; Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative

Rachel Glennerster

Government of the United Kingdom - Department for International Development (DFID)

Reshmaan Hussam

Harvard Business School

Date Written: April 2019

Abstract

The 1994 discovery of arsenic in groundwater in Bangladesh prompted a massive public health campaign that led 20% of the population to switch from backyard wells to less convenient drinking water sources that had a higher risk of fecal contamination. We find evidence of unintended health consequences by comparing mortality trends between households in the same village that did and did not have an incentive to abandon shallow tubewells. Post-campaign, households encouraged to switch water sources have 46% higher rates of child mortality than those not encouraged to switch. Switching away from arsenic-contaminated wells also increased adult mortality.

Suggested Citation

Buchmann, Nina and Field, Erica and Glennerster, Rachel and Hussam, Reshmaan, Throwing the Baby Out with the Drinking Water: Unintended Consequences of Arsenic Mitigation Efforts in Bangladesh (April 2019). NBER Working Paper No. w25729. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3368019

Nina Buchmann (Contact Author)

Stanford University

Erica Field

Duke University, Fuqua School of Business-Economics Group ( email )

Box 90097
Durham, NC 27708-0097
United States
(919) 660-1857 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://sites.duke.edu/ericafield/

Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative ( email )

215 Morris St., Suite 300
Durham, NC 27701
United States

Rachel Glennerster

Government of the United Kingdom - Department for International Development (DFID) ( email )

1 Palace Street
Warwick CV34 4RA
United Kingdom

Reshmaan Hussam

Harvard Business School ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

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