Water for Life: The Impact of the Privatization of Water Services on Child Mortality

Posted: 13 Jan 2005  

Sebastian Galiani

University of Maryland - Department of Economics

Paul J. Gertler

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Ernesto Schargrodsky

Universidad Torcuato Di Tella

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Abstract

While most countries are committed to increasing access to safe water and thereby reducing child mortality, there is little consensus on how to actually improve water services. One important proposal under discussion is whether to privatize water provision. In the 1990s Argentina embarked on one of the largest privatization campaigns in the world, including the privatization of local water companies covering approximately 30 percent of the country's municipalities. Using the variation in ownership of water provision across time and space generated by the privatization process, we find that child mortality fell 8 percent in the areas that privatized their water services and that the effect was largest (26 percent) in the poorest areas. We check the robustness of these estimates using cause-specific mortality. While privatization is associated with significant reductions in deaths from infectious and parasitic diseases, it is uncorrelated with deaths from causes unrelated to water conditions.

Suggested Citation

Galiani, Sebastian and Gertler, Paul J. and Schargrodsky, Ernesto, Water for Life: The Impact of the Privatization of Water Services on Child Mortality. Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 113, pp. 83-120, February 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=648048

Sebastian Galiani

University of Maryland - Department of Economics ( email )

College Park, MD 20742
United States

Paul J. Gertler (Contact Author)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

545 Student Services Building, #1900
2220 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States
510-642-1418 (Phone)
510-642-4700 (Fax)

Ernesto Schargrodsky

Universidad Torcuato Di Tella ( email )

Minones 2159
1428 Buenos Aires, 1428
Argentina
+54 11 4784 0080 (Phone)
+54 11 4783 3220 (Fax)

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