I investigate whether a school-based deworming intervention in Kenya had long-term effects on young children in the region. I exploit positive externalities from the program to estimate impacts on younger children who were not directly treated. Ten years after the intervention, I find large cognitive effects—comparable to between 0.5 and 0.8 years of schooling—for children who were less than one year old when their communities received mass deworming treatment. I find no effect on child height or stunting. Because treatment was administered through schools, I also estimate effects among children whose older siblings received treatment directly; in this subpopulation, effects on cognition are nearly twice as large.
Women who received private access to vouchers for contraceptives were more likely to take up and use contraception, compared to women whose husbands were involved in the voucher program. In contexts in which women have less bargaining power in family planning decisions, providing private access to contraceptives may be an important and effective means of enabling women to achieve their fertility goals.
State capacity to provide public services depends on the motivation of the agents recruited to deliver them. We design an experiment to quantify the effect of agent selection on service effectiveness. The experiment, embedded in a nationwide recruitment drive for a new government health position in Zambia, shows that agents attracted to a civil service career have more skills and ambition than those attracted to “doing good”. Data from a mobile platform, administrative records, and household surveys show that they deliver more services, change health practices, and produce better health outcomes in the communities they serve.
This study estimates long-run impacts of a child health investment, exploiting community-wide experimental variation in school-based deworming. The program increased labor supply among men and education among women, with accompanying shifts in labor market specialization. Ten years after deworming treatment, men who were eligible as boys stay enrolled for more years of primary school, work 17% more hours each week, spend more time in non-agricultural self-employment, are more likely to hold manufacturing jobs, and miss one fewer meal per week. Women who were in treatment schools as girls are approximately one quarter more likely to have attended secondary school, halving the gender gap. They reallocate time from traditional agriculture into cash crops and non-agricultural self-employment. We estimate a conservative annualized financial internal rate of return to deworming of 32%, and show that mass deworming may generate more in future government revenue than it costs in subsidies.
In a field experiment in Uganda, we find that demand after a free distribution of three health products is lower than after a sale distribution. This contrasts with work on insecticide-treated bed nets, highlighting the importance of product characteristics in determining pricing policy. We put forward a model to illustrate the potential tension between two important factors, learning and anchoring, and then test this model with three products selected specifically for their variation in the scope for learning. We find the rank order of shifts in demand matches with the theoretical prediction, although the differences are not statistically significant.
We study how healthcare subsidies and improved information affect over- and under-use of primary healthcare in a randomized control trial of 1544 children in Mali. In a dynamic model of healthcare demand, misuse relative to policymaker preferences (here given by WHO care-seeking standards) arises from seeking care too early or too late during an illness spell. Using nine weeks of daily data, we show that the barrier to optimal care seeking is cost, not information: subsidies increase demand by over 250%, but overuse is rare with or without the subsidy. Information, contrary to intent, appears to increase underuse, as our model predicts.
Lack of income, inadequate health services, and poor infrastructure contribute to poor global health. With more than 100 health-related studies, IPA generates evidence on effective ways to improve access to quality health services and products, and ensure people use them.
In recent years, great progress has been made in global health. Rates of chronic hunger and child mortality are half what they were two decades ago. However, at the same time, progress has been slow in other areas, such as maternal mortality, access to improved sanitation, and the incidence of malaria. To determine how best to address these challenges and many others, IPA partners with health ministries, civil society organizations, and NGOs working in the sector to discover and encourage the use of effective approaches for improving health systems and programs. Among its findings, this research has identified cost-effective methods to reduce the incidence of diarrhea in children under five years of age, examined the role of subsidies in improving access to preventive health, and ways to recruit effective community health workers.
The new handwashing system, designed with end user input, features an economical foaming soap dispenser and a hygienic, water-efficient tap for use in household and institutional settings that lack reliable access to piped water. Cost of the soap and water needed for use is less than US$0.10 per 100 handwash uses, compared with US$0.20–$0.44 for conventional handwashing stations used in Kenya.
Using an interactive and iterative design approach involving representative end users, we created a new handwashing system in Kisumu, Kenya, to make handwashing convenient and economical in areas without reliable piped water. The innovative and adaptable system, branded as Povu Poa (“Cool Foam” in Kiswahili), integrates a cost-effective foaming soap dispenser with a hygienic, water-frugal water tap in a secure and affordable design.
In the previous IPA Health Bulletin (August 2015) we discussed the discernible positive differences in household behaviors and child health in districts where the Community Health Assistants were recruited using career incentives (“Career CHAs”) in comparison with those recruited using community incentives (“Control CHAs”). Over the past months IPA has been meeting with government stakeholders - including the MOH HR Technical Working Group - and presenting what these results mean for the cost-benefit of providing career incentives for the CHAs. Here is a brief summary of that presentation.
A seven-year randomized evaluation suggests education subsidies reduce adolescent girls’ dropout, pregnancy, and marriage but not sexually transmitted infection (STI). The government’s HIV curriculum, which stresses abstinence until marriage, does not reduce pregnancy or STI. Both programs combined reduce STI more, but cut dropout and pregnancy less, than education subsidies alone. These results are inconsistent with a model of schooling and sexual behavior in which both pregnancy and STI are determined by one factor (unprotected sex), but consistent with a two-factor model in which choices between committed and casual relationships also affect these outcomes.
The results are in for the Community Health Assistant (CHA) incentives evaluation: increases in the productivity of CHAs that were recruited via career (versus social) incentives are mirrored by significantly improved health outcomes at the household level.
Both under- and over-treatment of communicable diseases are public bads. But efforts to decrease one run the risk of increasing the other. Using rich experimental data on household treatment-seeking behavior in Kenya, we study the implications of this trade-off for subsidizing life-saving antimalarials sold over-the-counter at retail drug outlets. We show that a very high subsidy (such as the one under consideration by the international community) dramatically increases access, but nearly one-half of subsidized pills go to patients without malaria. We study two ways to better target subsidized drugs: reducing the subsidy level, and introducing rapid malaria tests over-the-counter.
Poor sanitation contributes to morbidity and mortality in the developing world, but there is disagreement on what policies can increase sanitation coverage. To measure the effects of alternative policies on investment in hygienic latrines, we assigned 380 communities in rural Bangladesh to different marketing treatments—community motivation and information; subsidies; a supply-side market access intervention; and a control—in a cluster-randomized trial. Community motivation alone did not increase hygienic latrine ownership (+1.6 percentage points, P = 0.43), nor did the supply-side intervention (+0.3 percentage points, P = 0.90). Subsidies to the majority of the landless poor increased ownership among subsidized households (+22.0 percentage points, P < 0.001) and their unsubsidized neighbors (+8.5 percentage points, P = 0.001), which suggests that investment decisions are interlinked across neighbors. Subsidies also reduced open defecation by 14 percentage points (P < 0.001).
Beginning with the seminal article in 1971 by Lucas and Prescott, economists have examined investments under uncertainty in a variety of contexts. Becker et al. (1977) applied this concept to marriage suggesting that increased uncertainty in marriage (i.e., the likelihood of separation or divorce) reduces the incentive for spouses to invest in marriagespecific capital. Several studies have found that reducing the barriers to marital dissolution, through no-fault divorce laws for example, is associated with lower investments in marriage-specific goods (Landes, 1978; Johnson and Skinner, 1986; Peters, 1986; Lommerud, 1988; Lundberg and Rose, 1999; Stevenson, 2007).1 Similar studies have found that with greater uncertainty about paternity, 1 Other papers in economics have examined the impact of outside options in marriage and contracts affecting marital outcomes (Rasul, 2006; Rasul and Mathoushek, 2008; South and Lloyd, 1995). men are less willing to invest in their alleged offspring and more likely to divorce their wives (Alexander, 1974; Anderson et al., 2005). In this paper we examine the relationship between uncertainty and marriage stability in rural Malawi. In particular, we examine how uncertainty about a spouses’ HIV status, and thus the risk of HIV exposure, affects the likelihood of divorce.
UsingarandomizedevaluationinKenya, wemeasurehealthimpacts ofspring protection, an investment that improves source water quality. We also estimate households’ valuation of spring protection and simulate the welfare impacts of alternatives tothe current system of common property rights in water, which limits incentives for private investment. Spring infrastructure investments reduce fecal contamination by 66%, but household water quality improves less, due to recontamination. Child diarrhea falls by one quarter. Travel-cost based revealed preference estimates of households’ valuations are much smaller than both stated preference valuations and health planners’ valuations, and are consistent with models in which the demand for health is highly income elastic. We estimate that private property norms would generate little additional investment while imposing large static costs due to above-marginal-cost pricing, private property would function better at higher income levels or under water scarcity, andalternative institutions couldyieldParetoimprovements. JEL Codes: C93, H75, O13, Q25, Q51.