Can information alone change behavior? Response to arsenic contamination of groundwater in Bangladesh
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We study how effectively information induces Bangladeshi households to avoid a health risk. The response to information is large and rapid; knowing that the household's well water has an unsafe concentration of arsenic raises the probability that the household changes to another well within one year by 0.37. Households who change wells increase the time spent obtaining water fifteen-fold. We identify a causal effect of information, since incidence of arsenic is uncorrelated with household characteristics. Our door-to-door information campaign provides well-specific arsenic levels without which behavior does not change. Media communicate general information about arsenic less expensively and no less effectively. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Published Version (Please cite this version)10.1016/j.jdeveco.2006.12.002
Publication InfoAhsan, H; Graziano, Joseph H; Hussein, I; Madajewicz, M; Momotaj, H; Pfaff, Alexander; ... van Geen, A (2007). Can information alone change behavior? Response to arsenic contamination of groundwater in Bangladesh. Journal of Development Economics, 84(2). pp. 731-754. 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2006.12.002. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10161/6639.
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Professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy
Alex Pfaff is a Professor of Public Policy, Economics and Environment. Trained as an economist, he is focused on how the environment and natural resources, economic development, and a range of policies influence each other. Research accessible at AlexPfaff.comHe has studied: impacts on forests of protected areas, incentives, roads, railroads and concessions/c