UCL Department of Economics


Applied Micro Seminar presented by Gautam Rao (Harvard)

07 November 2019, 12:15 pm–1:45 pm

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Sleepless in Chennai: The Consequences of Increasing Sleep among the Urban Poor

Event Information

Open to

UCL staff | UCL students | UCL alumni


Department of Economics – Economics


Rm 321, Drayton House
30 Gordon Street

Abstract: This paper measures the prevalence and consequences of sleep deprivation amongthe urban poor in India. Low-income adults in Chennai sleep 5.6 hours of objectively-measured sleep per night, despite 8 hours in bed. Providing improvements to sleepenvironments, information, and encouragement increased sleep by over 30 minutes pernight over the course of three weeks. Increased night sleep had no detectable effectson cognition, productivity, decision-making, or psychological and physical well-being,and led to small decreases in labor supply. In contrast, offering afternoon naps at theworkplace improved cognition, psychological well-being, and productivity. Naps alsoreduced inattention to incentives and increased patience, as measured by a real-efforttask and financial savings. Taken together, our results provide a possible explanationfor the persistence of widespread sleep deprivation and the relatively high prevalence ofafternoon naps in many developing countries.

Paper available

About the Speaker

Gautam Rao

at Harvard