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Sanitation dynamics: toilet acquisition and its economic and social implications in rural and urban contexts

Britta Augsburg and Paul Rodríguez-Lesmes
Journal article | Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development

This paper uses primary micro-data from Indian households residing in rural villages and poor urban neighbourhoods to shed light on household sanitation decision-making. We use a theoretical economic model to reduce the dimensionality and complexity of this process. Beyond the most commonly analysed motivator, health, we consider economic and non-pecuniary benefits. We provide empirical evidence that each of these margins matter, and do so in both rural and urban contexts, and discuss how our findings can be explored in sanitation policy and programme design.

  • Health is but one motivating factor for households to invest in sanitation in the context of India.

  • Households that own sanitation exhibit higher consumption expenditures.

  • An increase in productive asset ownership and a shift in time allocation are potential drivers behind increased consumption expenditures.

  • Sanitation shifts children's time allocation within the household away from domestic chores and collection of water.

  • Sanitation seems to serve as a pre-marital investment strategy.

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