The Impact of Ritual Bathing in a Holy Hindu River on Waterborne Diseases

Soumi Roy Chowdhury, Alok K. Bohara, Hari Katuwal, José A. Pagán, Jennifer A. Thacher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, we identify the role of religious practices on individual outcomes by examining if bathing in polluted river water for religious reasons affects the likelihood of missing days at work. To exploit the relationship, we use a primary survey (N = 1,200) of the residents of Kathmandu Valley, Nepal on their Bagmati River water usage. Probit and negative binomial estimation strategies reveal that bathing in river water, driven by traditional and cultural norms, is significantly associated with a higher probability of missing work. Among other factors, accessibility to personal sanitation facilities have a negative and significant correlation with the likelihood of missing work due to health reasons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-54
Number of pages19
JournalDeveloping Economies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2019


  • Missing work
  • Nepal
  • Ritualistic bath
  • Sanitation
  • Waterborne diseases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Economics and Econometrics


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