Journal Article - September 2018

The Price of Purity: Willingness to Pay for Air and Water Purification Technologies in Rajasthan, India

Diarrheal illnesses and acute respiratory infections are among the top causes for premature death and disability across the developing world, and adoption of various technologies for avoiding these illnesses remains extremely low. We exploit data from a unique contingent valuation experiment to consider whether households in rural Rajasthan are unwilling to make investments in “domain-specific” environmental health technologies when faced with health risks in multiple domains. Results indicate that demand for water-related risk reductions is higher on average than demand for air-related risk reduction. In addition, households’ private health benefits from mitigating diarrheal (respiratory) disease risks are higher (no different) when community-level air pollution risks, rather than community-level water pollution risks, have previously been mitigated. This asymmetric response cannot fully be explained by survey order effects or embedding, but rather suggests that that the broader health environment and the salience of particular risks may be important in households’ decision to adopt environmental health technologies.
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