Access to drinking water in India
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The current work consists of three empirical analyzes on access to drinking water in India. The first study examines the effect that access to safe water and sanitation has on child health outcomes in India. In particular, the paper focuses on “indirect” effects such as diarrhea on the nutritional distribution for children. The findings indicate that the effect of access to safe water and sanitation depends critically on a child’s position in the conditional (quintile) nutrition distribution. The analysis is also conducted for urban and rural sub-samples to check for “location” effects. The evidence suggests that the geographical location of children can significantly impact their health status. From a policy perspective, these results indicate that rather than designing one-size-fits-all policies, improving health outcomes require that policies be targeted to the conditional distribution of nutrition as well as geography. The second study examines whether different social divisions help explain the variation in tap water access across India. We find that communities that are heterogeneous in terms of Hindu caste have less access to tap water than correspondingly homogeneous communities. By contrast, religiously fragmented communities have more access to tap water than correspondingly homogeneous communities. Therefore, heterogeneity within and across religions may work in opposite directions for access to public goods. Consequently, the many studies that use aggregate measures of social fragmentation may obscure important information regarding the design of public policy related to public goods. There is a large consensus that two broad mechanisms namely, institutions and preferences influence the effects of ethnic diversity on public goods provision. Although a large body of work has analyzed the effect of ethnic heterogeneity and social fragmentation on public goods access and provision, but the channel or mechanism through which these effects occur have not been examined. The final study examines which of these two channels influence social divisions to as a determinant of access to tap water in rural India. The analysis indicates that institutions are important in understanding why social divisions affect access to tap water in rural India.