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Every week, the Economics Group of King's Business School organises research seminars in economics. Bi-weekly the seminars are organised together with the Department of Political Economy and International Development. These seminars will take place on Wednesdays from 12.00 - 1.30 pm in Bush House, room (South) 3.01.
This week we welcome Alessandro Tarozzi (Universitat Pompeu Fabra).
"Demand for Information on Environmental Health Risk, Mode of Delivery, and Behavioral Change: Evidence from Sonargaon, Bangladesh"
Millions of villagers in Bangladesh are chronically exposed to arsenic by drinking contaminated water from private wells. Free testing for arsenic has been shown to encourage households with unsafe wells to switch to safer sources that are often within walking distance. However, the safety status of millions of tubewells remains unknown because there is no well-established market for well tests and wells continue to be installed. We describe results from a cluster randomized controlled trial conducted in 112 villages in Bangladesh, to determine, first, to what extent charging a modest fee for an environmental test limits demand. Second, we evaluate whether either informal interhousehold agreements to share water from wells that are found to be safe, or visual reminders of well status in the form of metal placards mounted on the well pump, can increase risk-mitigating behavior. At a price of about USD0.60, only one in four households purchased a test and sales were not increased by risk-sharing agreements or visual reminders. However, switching away from an unsafe well almost doubled in response to agreements or placards relative to the one in three proportion of households who switched away from an unsafe well after only purchasing a test.
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