Welfare Gains from Improved Drinking Water Sources: Evidence from Rural India

EPA Grant Number: FP916904
Title: Welfare Gains from Improved Drinking Water Sources: Evidence from Rural India
Investigators: Jessoe, Katrina
Institution: Yale University
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: September 1, 2007 through September 1, 2010
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2007) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Environmental Justice , Academic Fellowships , Fellowship - Economics


In India alone, 1 million child deaths occur annually from preventable water borne diseases. Because of this the World Health Organization cites inadequate access to clean drinking water as a fundamental barrier to health improvements. Yet, recent research suggests that the health benefits from a clean drinking water supply are minimal. This paper uses cross-sectional data from rural villages in the Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh, India to investigate how health outcomes from improved drinking water supplies depend upon behavioral choices.


This study creates a simple model to explain how diverse household objectives can limit the health benefits associated with improved drinking water sources. To test if household behavior responds to improved drinking water sources, in-home treatment is estimated as a function of drinking water source. To account for endogeneity in the choice of source, primary drinking water source is predicted using village drinking water infrastructure and spatial maps of potable groundwater. The health outcomes from improved drinking water sources are modeled using a health production function that estimates health outcomes as a function of demand for health inputs and drinking water consumption. This study relies on National Sample Survey Organization datasets, the Demographic and Health Survey and UNESCO groundwater data. To verify the economic model, qualitative field work will be conducted in the Bundelkhand district; an on-site study will allow the investigation of both potential omitted variables and measurement error. Additionally, this project will use a data set previously collected by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) to cross validate the economic model and examine the influence of health interventions on source choice and treatment behavior.

Expected Results:

This research contributes to the literature on the determinants of in-home treatment behavior, as well as the public health and economics literature examining the health benefits associated with access to improved drinking water sources. This project will demonstrate whether household behavior as examined through the lens of microeconomic theory limits the health outcomes from improved drinking water supplies.

Additionally, this study will suggest if the benefits associated with improved drinking water sources spill over into income and leisure gains.

Supplemental Keywords:

Drinking water, in-home treatment, water consumption, India, rural development, public health, water-borne diseases, environmental health conditions, compensating behavior, water pollution, economics, econometrics, environmental policy,

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2008
  • 2009
  • Final