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Development, Sanitation and Personal Hygiene in India

Vani Borooah ()

The European Journal of Development Research, 2022, vol. 34, issue 1, No 5, 103-123

Abstract: Abstract The fact that many Indian rural dwellings lack toilets and that, therefore, a significant proportion of India’s rural population is forced to defecate in the open has, by facilitating the spread of bacterial infections, profound consequences for public health. Compounding this is the fact that open defecation means that people carry limited amounts of water with them and so, by default, post-defecation handwashing is cursory. This paper, using data from the Indian Human Development Survey, examines the demand for toilets in India and the quality of post-defecation personal hygiene. Income, education, and ancillary facilities in the dwelling—like kitchens, and proper roofs and floors—were the strongest influences on demand. However, ceteris paribus households in more developed villages were more likely to have a toilet than those in less developed villages. This suggests that, over and above specific factors, households’ toilet demand also depended on their social environment In setting out these results, the paper rejects the idea, put forward in several academic papers, that the problem of open defecation in India exists because considerations caste and ritual pollution lead rural Indians to prefer open defecation to toilet use.

Keywords: India; Sanitation; Hygiene; Development; Caste; Religion (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I12 I15 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1057/s41287-020-00347-z

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