Women Are Walking and Waiting for Water: The Time Value of Public Water Supply

Elena Gross, Isabel Günther, Youdi Schipper

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Funding of the public water supply in developing countries is often justified by the expectation that it significantly decreases the time spent on water collection, leading to increased labor force participation of women. We empirically test this hypothesis for rural Benin. Daily water collection times are reduced by 41 minutes but still take 2 hours after the installation of a public pump. Even though walking distances are reduced, women still spend a lot of time waiting at the water source, and not all women use the improved water source. Moreover, a reduction in time to fill one water container induces women to fill more containers per day. Time savings are rarely followed by an increase in the labor supply of women. The economic value of the annual time savings is 1%–2% of a rural households’ income.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)489-517
Number of pages29
JournalEconomic Development and Cultural Change
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


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