Oct 13, 2011

Deworming works

From the paper: Worms at Work: Long-run Impacts of Child Health Gains. Michael Kremer et al. Working Paper (2008).
We examine the impact of a child-health program on adult living standards by following participants in a deworming program in Kenya that began in 1998. The effective tracking rate was 83% over a decade. Treatment individuals received two to three more years of deworming than the comparison group. Self-reported health, years enrolled in school, and test scores improve significantly, and hours worked increase by 12% in the treatment group. These findings suggest that poor health may contribute to the relatively low labor supply previously documented among African workers. Treatment individuals report eating an average of 0.1 additional meals per day. Point estimates suggest there were substantial positive externalities among those living within 6 km of treatment schools, although significance levels vary due to large standard errors. Within the subsample working for wages, earnings are over 20% higher for the treatment group. Most of the earnings gains are explained by sectoral shifts, including a doubling of manufacturing employment. Small business performance also improves among the self-employed. A lower bound on the annualized social internal rate of return to deworming is large, at 83%. The externality benefits alone appear to justify fully subsidizing school-based deworming.
There are so many needs and so few resources in developing countries that one really does not know where to start. Focusing on deworming is a good way to start. Several studies, besides the one to which I link here, confirm that the impact of this intervention, done well, can be very positive in the long term. 

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