Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines (STICERD) LSE RSS Contact Us YouTube Twitter

STICERD Psychology and Economics Seminar


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These seminars are held on Tuesdays in term time at 15:30-17:00 in room 32L 2.04 (2nd floor, 32 Lincolns Inn Fields, London), unless specified otherwise.

Entry is on a first-come first-served basis. No registration is required but places are limited. 

Seminar Organisers: Dr Matthew Levy and Professor Nava Ashraf.

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Tuesday  24 September 2019  14:00 - 15:30
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Sleepless in Chennai: The Consequences of Increasing Sleep among the Urban Poor

Gautam Rao (Harvard University) , joint with Pedro Bessone, Frank Schilbach, Heather Schofield, and Mattie Toma

This paper measures the prevalence and consequences of sleep deprivation among the urban poor in India. We find that low-income adults in Chennai sleep little and poorly:  5.6 hours of objectively-measured sleep per night, despite 8 hours in bed. Their sleep can be increased substantially: randomized treatments providing simple devices, encouragement, (and for some) financial incentives increase night sleep by over 30 minutes. Offering short naps at the workplace in the afternoon also increased daily sleep. However, increased  night sleep had no detectable effects on cognition, productivity or labor supply, economic decisions, or physical health.  In contrast, naps improved cognition, subjective well-being and labor productivity. Naps also reduced present bias and inattention, and marginally increased financial savings. Our results provide a possible explanation for the persistence of widespread sleep deprivation and the relatively high prevalence of afternoon naps in many developing countries.


32L 1.04, 1st Floor Conference Room, LSE, 32 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3PH


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