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

Journal Article (Journal Article)

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