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Jim Levinsohn Publications

Publish Date
Journal of Development Economics

Addressing public health externalities often requires community-level collective action. Due to social norms, each person’s sanitation investment decisions may depend on the decisions of neighbors. We report on a cluster randomized controlled trial conducted with 19,000 households in rural Bangladesh where we grouped neighboring households and introduced (either financial or social recognition) rewards with a joint liability component for the group, or asked each group member to make a private or public pledge to maintain a hygienic latrine. The group financial reward has the strongest impact in the short term (3 months), inducing a 7.5–12.5 percentage point increase in hygienic latrine ownership, but this effect dissipates in the medium term (15 months). In contrast, the public commitment induced a 4.2–6.3 percentage point increase in hygienic latrine ownership in the short term, but this effect persists in the medium term. Non-financial social recognition or a private pledge has no detectable effect on sanitation investments.


In this paper we provide an algorithm for estimating characteristic based demand models from alternative data sources, and apply it to new data on the market for passenger vehicles. We find that, provided care is taken in constructing the demand system and rich enough data are available, the characteristic based model can both rationalize existing results and provide realistic out of sample predictions.