Explaining environmental health behaviors: Evidence from rural India on the influence of discount rates


Journal Article

Copyright © 2017 Cambridge University Press. The authors examine whether high personal discount rates help explain why and which households in developing countries under-invest in seemingly low-cost options to avert environmental health threats, including bednets, clean cooking fuels, individual household latrines, water treatment and handwashing. First, the authors elicit personal discount rates by combining a simple randomized experiment with detailed surveys of over 10,000 rural households in Maharashtra, India. Personal discount rates are lower for women, for better-off households, and for households who can access formal credit. Secondly, they show that the discount rate is negatively related to a suite of behaviors that mitigate environmental health threats, from very low-cost steps like washing hands to more significant investments like household latrines, even after controlling for socio-economic status, access to credit, public infrastructure and services, and relevant beliefs.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Atmadja, SS; Sills, EO; Pattanayak, SK; Yang, JC; Patil, S

Published Date

  • June 1, 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 22 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 229 - 248

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1469-4395

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1355-770X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1017/S1355770X17000018

Citation Source

  • Scopus