October 01, 2015
News /
Posted by NCID

Alessandro Tarozzi from Universitat Pompeu Fabra presented his research “Time Inconsistency, Expectations and Technology Adoption: The case of Insecticide Treated Nets” on a seminar organized by the NCID.

The paper presents a model that estimates household time-preference parameters when making a choice. The data of this project comes from a field intervention in rural India, concretely in 5 districts in Orrissa, a region in the east of India. The intervention studied the decision to purchase insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) and the secondary decision to retreat them periodically with insecticide, all in the face of endemic malaria.


1-As you said in the presentation there is a strong interest in development economics in explaining the "inefficient choices" individuals make. Could you explain the relationship of 'beliefs' and efficient or inefficient choices? Is this different than information inefficiency?

The link is that a possible simple reason why you don't adopt the appropriate risk-protecting behavior may be that either you don't know that they exist, or you do not think that they are useful.

2- Your paper focuses on when people make investments in health. How important are such micro-economic decisions at the family level in raising a financial and human capital at the household level? Can this match a well-crafted social program in the same effort?

There are several thousands of papers that show that there is a clear link between health and human capital. The link is complicated to study empirically because the pathway of causality goes both ways and there a many third factors that are correlated to both, but by now everyone knows that poor health (especially in early childhood and even while in utero) reduces productivity and human capital more generally. Because health also depends on individual choices, it follows that individual choices on health-related matters are very important for human capital.


3-In this experiment, what effects did you see in using the bed nets? Were there any such impacts on health or the household economy?

In the other paper we wrote on this topic we found no impacts on malaria prevalence (the % of people with the disease) or on anemia (a health condition also often associated to malaria) but we found that ITNs reduced self-reported malaria incidence (the number of malaria cases during a period of time).


4-According to the new UN development agenda set by the Sustainable Development Goals in Goal number 3 Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages there is target specifically for malaria that aims to end this disease by 2030. Following this experiment and other research that you might have conducted, what sort of policies, programs or strategies would you recommend to achieve this goal?

I think ending malaria by 2030 is wishful thinking (like most such grandiose targets). To at least reduce the burden further (much has been during the last few years) we need immense public health investments for 1. the development of an effective vaccine (we are still far from this despite progress); 2. the development of effective drugs and insecticide to counter growing resistance; 3. increasing the coverage and usage of risk-reducing strategies such as ITNs; 4. massive systems of active and passive surveillance to detect and treat malaria cases in a timely manner; 5. massive public works and information campaigns to get rid of breeding grounds and to educate people. Sadly, this would require a degree of global coordination and political will that it is hard to think it may happen in the foreseeable future.


Alessandro Tarozzi is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics and Business at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra. His major field of interest is Development Economics. His current research centers on factors that limit access and uptake of health-protecting technologies in developing countries. His work, which is mostly focused on India, also includes research on poverty estimation with missing data, as well as on child nutritional status.