In this short video interview Dean Spears (Executive Director, RICE/Assistant Professor of Economics, University of Texas at Austin) talks about the key motivations behind the award-winning book he co-authored with Diane Coffey, ‘Where India Goes: Abandoned toilets, stunted development, and the cost of caste.’
The book addresses a central puzzle: why is open defecation so persistently high in rural India? And what to do about it? It presents evidence showing that poor sanitation is an important determinant of the poor health outcomes of India’s children, and that the continuing relevance of the purity, pollution and untouchability norms of the caste system keeps open defecation alive today despite decades of government latrine construction programmes.
The main motivation for writing the book as Dean reflects in the interview, ‘hopefully it will get people involved and excited about trial and error around these solutions to these problems of purity and pollution and latrine pits filling up. Hopefully that can lead to something that really can accelerate the decline of open defecation in rural India.’