research institute for compassionate economics

Open defecation among toilet owners, by gender

By r.i.c.e. November 13th, 2014

This graph only includes people in houses that own a working latrine.

Except for among young children, men are more likely to defecate in the open than women at every age. During late childhood and teenage years, open defecation decreases sharply in age for young women with access to latrines. This could be for two reasons – either they prefer to use latrines or cultural norms tend to keep women in their reproductive years inside the home.

For most of adulthood, open defecation increases in age. This reflects that older people have more freedom to do what they like and can move about more freely. And also, since this is a cross-sectional survey, older people are from earlier times when open defecation was even more common than today.

Open defecation decreases sharply among the oldest, likely because old age and disability make it difficult or impractical.

This graph shows how the social dynamics of Indian households are reflected in latrine use. Young women and the elderly are most likely to want and use latrines, but they have the least decision making power in the household. On the other hand, young and middle-aged men, who are generally the economic decision makers, are the least likely to want and use latrines, importantly constricting latrine adoption.