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unintended consequences


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A useful phrase that usually describes unfortunate or undesirable consequences of policies and practices that had good, indeed, the best intentions. Conversely, it may describe unexpected favorable outcomes not considered at the planning stages of a program. An example of disastrous unintended consequences was the occurrence of arsenic poisoning in Bangladesh after water pumps were installed to overcome the hazard of bacterial waterborne disease in contaminated surface water; unfortunately, the subsurface soil strata over a wide region contained a high content of arsenic salts. An example of good unintended consequences is strengthening of parent-teacher relations as a result of a school safety program.

Subjects: Sociology — Public Health and Epidemiology.


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