This paper analyzes the impact of access to piped water on human capital formation as measured by test scores from standardized school exams in Brazilian primary schools. We find that children in urban areas with access to tap water at home perform significantly better at school: They achieve test scores that are 14 percent of the standard deviation higher than the average test score without access. The effect is conditional on the education of the mother and turns out to be insignificant in rural areas. Our results capture the long term effect of the reduced incidence of water-related diseases for children with access to tap water. We exploit school-specific variation across years as well as a comprehensive vector of socioeconomic background variables to identify this effect.
Health piped water cognitive development human capital formation