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Title: If You Build It, They Won’t Come: The Cultural Determinants of India’s Open Defecation Problem
Authors: Tran, Thuy Tien
Advisors: Hammer, Jeffrey
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2015
Abstract: Open defecation presents a sanitation crisis in India. India accounts for the 60% of the 1 billion people in the world who open defecate. Most of these people live in rural India, where open defecation rate and density are extremely high. To address the rampant open defecation rate in India, the government has invested heavily in latrine construction and subsidies to poor family to increase coverage of sanitation in India. However, these policies have not been effective, evident in the high rate of open defecation in rural India which causes children’s deaths and stunted growth. The lack of effectiveness in India’s sanitation policy demands a careful study of what factors contribute to the high rate of open defecation in rural India. This thesis begins to fill the gap in the current understanding of open defecation in rural India by examining determinants of latrine usage and latrine adoption in rural India. This thesis uses data from the SQUAT survey to carry out empirical studies for the factors that cause open defecation in rural India. The findings suggest that culture is a strong determinant of sanitation behavior, including latrine usage and latrine adoption in rural India. Moreover, there is a potential link between people’s disgust to feces and their sanitation behavior, suggesting another direction to understand the open defecation puzzle in India. Since cultural factor have a strong influence on sanitation behaviors, the government of India should focus on understand cultural factors that shape people’s behaviors and design policies that focus on increasing people’s demand for latrines.
Extent: 93 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2016

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