Village sanitation and child health: Effects and external validity in a randomized field experiment in rural India

Jeffrey Hammera Dean Spears

Journal of Health Economics,2016
Open Access funded by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Over a billion people worldwide defecate in the open, with important consequences for early-life health and human capital accumulation in developing countries. We report a cluster randomized controlled trial of a village sanitation intervention conducted in rural Maharashtra, India designed to identify an effect of village sanitation on average child height, an outcome of increasing importance to economists. We find an effect of approximately 0.3 height-for-age standard deviations, which is consistent with observations and hypotheses in economic and health literatures. We further exploit details of the planning and implementation of the experiment to study treatment heterogeneity and external validity.

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