How Can Public Expenditure Improve Households’ Sanitation Behavior? Experience of the Swachh Bharat Mission in the Indian States

Publication | April 2023

Publicly funded initiatives can play an important role as a catalyst for improving the sanitation environment.

The social impact of sanitation is multifaceted. It has repercussions for health, education, and the local environment, as well as overall human development and economic growth. Unsafe sanitation poses environmental and health risks. In light of the health hazards, the Government of India has introduced the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) to improve sanitation conditions. 

We investigate how the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), as a public-funded initiative of the Government of India, can improve the sanitation environment in different states. We also explore whether the SBM has been successful as a catalyst in improving the sanitation infrastructure and ensuring its long-term sustainability. 

We employ state-level data from various secondary data sources from 2014–15 to 2018–19. We also explored the changes further using data from the National Family Health Survey (4th and 5th rounds) of the Government of India. We analyzed the data by estimating panel econometric models and carried out related diagnostic tests. In addition, descriptive analysis was also performed.

The results show that household latrine coverage has improved considerably with the initiation of the SBM in India. In addition, a higher literacy rate, a sex ratio favoring women in the family, more significant government expenditure on sanitation and water, and more per capita income result in an improved hygienic environment.

As a public-funded initiative, the SBM seems to have played the role of an important catalyst in making people aware of sanitation and creating a conducive environment by constructing latrines. One may expect such changes to encourage private expenditure on sanitation and lead to the establishment of a sustainable sanitation environment in the country. Community participation is also necessary in this regard to alter and improve sanitation and hygiene behavior.


Additional Details

  • Environment
  • Governance and public sector management
  • Health
  • Social development and protection
  • India