Publication: Access to Water, Women’s Work and Child Outcomes

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Authors: Gayatri Koolwal& Dominique van de Walle

World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 5302

Summary: Poor rural women in the developing world spend considerable time collecting water. How then do they respond to improved access to water infrastructure? Does it increase their participation in income earning market-based activities? Does it improve the health and education outcomes of their children? To help address these questions, a new approach for dealing with the endogeneity of infrastructure placement in cross-sectional surveys is proposed and implemented using data for nine developing countries. The paper does not find that access to water comes with greater off-farm work for women, although in countries where substantial gender gaps in schooling exist, both boys’ and girls’ enrollments improve with better access to water. There are also some signs of impacts on child health as measured by anthropometric z-scores.

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