IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/26528.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Does Household Electrification Supercharge Economic Development?

Author

Listed:
  • Kenneth Lee
  • Edward Miguel
  • Catherine Wolfram

Abstract

In recent years, electrification has re-emerged as a key priority in low-income countries, with a particular focus on electrifying households. Yet the microeconomic literature examining the impacts of electrifying households on economic development has produced a set of conflicting results. Does household electrification lead to measurable gains in living standards or not? Focusing on grid electrification, we discuss how the divergent conclusions across the literature can be explained by differences in methods, interventions, potential for spillovers, and populations. We then use experimental data from Lee, Miguel, and Wolfram (2019) — a field experiment that connected randomly-selected households to the grid in rural Kenya — to show that impacts can vary even across individuals in neighboring villages. Specifically, we show that households that were willing to pay more for a grid electrification may gain more from electrification compared to households that would only connect for free. We conclude that access to household electrification alone is not enough to drive meaningful gains in development outcomes. Instead, future initiatives may work better if paired with complementary inputs that allow people to do more with power.

Suggested Citation

  • Kenneth Lee & Edward Miguel & Catherine Wolfram, 2019. "Does Household Electrification Supercharge Economic Development?," NBER Working Papers 26528, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26528
    Note: DEV EEE
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w26528.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. James J. Heckman & Vytlacil, Edward J., 2007. "Econometric Evaluation of Social Programs, Part II: Using the Marginal Treatment Effect to Organize Alternative Econometric Estimators to Evaluate Social Programs, and to Forecast their Effects in New," Handbook of Econometrics, in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 6, chapter 71, Elsevier.
    2. Amanda Kowalski, 2016. "Doing more when you're running LATE: Applying marginal treatment effect methods to examine treatment effect heterogeneity in experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments 00560, The Field Experiments Website.
    3. Jack Mountjoy, 2022. "Community Colleges and Upward Mobility," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 112(8), pages 2580-2630, August.
    4. George Akpandjar & Carl Kitchens, 2017. "From Darkness to Light: The Effect of Electrification in Ghana, 2000–2010," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66(1), pages 31-54.
    5. Rud, Juan Pablo, 2012. "Electricity provision and industrial development: Evidence from India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 352-367.
    6. Shahidur R. Khandker, Hussain A. Samad, Rubaba Ali, and Douglas F. Barnes, 2014. "Who Benefits Most from Rural Electrification? Evidence in India," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2).
    7. Taryn Dinkelman, 2011. "The Effects of Rural Electrification on Employment: New Evidence from South Africa," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3078-3108, December.
    8. Tanguy Bernard & Maximo Torero, 2015. "Social Interaction Effects and Connection to Electricity: Experimental Evidence from Rural Ethiopia," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63(3), pages 459-484.
    9. Fisher-Vanden, Karen & Mansur, Erin T. & Wang, Qiong (Juliana), 2015. "Electricity shortages and firm productivity: Evidence from China's industrial firms," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 172-188.
    10. Patrick Kline & Christopher R. Walters, 2016. "Evaluating Public Programs with Close Substitutes: The Case of HeadStart," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 131(4), pages 1795-1848.
    11. Barron, Manuel & Torero, Maximo, 2017. "Household electrification and indoor air pollution," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 81-92.
    12. Molly Lipscomb & A. Mushfiq Mobarak & Tania Barham, 2013. "Development Effects of Electrification: Evidence from the Topographic Placement of Hydropower Plants in Brazil," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 200-231, April.
    13. Michael Grimm & Anicet Munyehirwe & Jörg Peters & Maximiliane Sievert, 2017. "A First Step up the Energy Ladder? Low Cost Solar Kits and Household’s Welfare in Rural Rwanda," The World Bank Economic Review, World Bank, vol. 31(3), pages 631-649.
    14. Chakravorty, Ujjayant & Emerick, Kyle & Ravago, Majah-Leah, 2016. "Lighting up the last mile: The bene ts and costs of extending electricity to the rural poor," RFF Working Paper Series dp-16-22-rev, Resources for the Future.
    15. Dominique van de Walle & Martin Ravallion & Vibhuti Mendiratta & Gayatri Koolwal, 2017. "Long-term Gains from Electrification in Rural India," The World Bank Economic Review, World Bank, vol. 31(2), pages 385-411.
    16. Hsiao,Cheng & Morimune,Kimio & Powell,James L. (ed.), 2001. "Nonlinear Statistical Modeling," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521662468, November.
    17. Hunt Allcott & Allan Collard-Wexler & Stephen D. O'Connell, 2016. "How Do Electricity Shortages Affect Industry? Evidence from India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(3), pages 587-624, March.
    18. Min, Brian & Golden, Miriam, 2014. "Electoral cycles in electricity losses in India," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 619-625.
    19. Enrico Moretti, 2014. "Local Economic Development, Agglomeration Economies, and the Big Push: 100 Years of Evidence from the Tennessee Valley Authority," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 129(1), pages 275-331.
    20. Imbens, Guido W & Angrist, Joshua D, 1994. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 467-475, March.
    21. James J. Heckman & Vytlacil, Edward J., 2007. "Econometric Evaluation of Social Programs, Part I: Causal Models, Structural Models and Econometric Policy Evaluation," Handbook of Econometrics, in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 6, chapter 70, Elsevier.
    22. David Card & Alessandra Fenizia & David Silver, 2019. "The Health Impacts of Hospital Delivery Practices," NBER Working Papers 25986, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    23. Grogan, Louise & Sadanand, Asha, 2013. "Rural Electrification and Employment in Poor Countries: Evidence from Nicaragua," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 252-265.
    24. Kenneth Lee & Edward Miguel & Catherine Wolfram, 2016. "Appliance Ownership and Aspirations among Electric Grid and Home Solar Households in Rural Kenya," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(5), pages 89-94, May.
    25. Fetter, T. Robert & Usmani, Faraz, 2020. "Fracking, farmers, and rural electrification in India," Ruhr Economic Papers 864, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    26. Steinbuks, J. & Foster, V., 2010. "When do firms generate? Evidence on in-house electricity supply in Africa," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 505-514, May.
    27. Shahidur R. Khandker & Douglas F. Barnes & Hussain A. Samad, 2013. "Welfare Impacts of Rural Electrification: A Panel Data Analysis from Vietnam," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61(3), pages 659-692.
    28. Chishio Furukawa, 2014. "Do Solar Lamps Help Children Study? Contrary Evidence from a Pilot Study in Uganda," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 50(2), pages 319-341, February.
    29. Abadie A., 2002. "Bootstrap Tests for Distributional Treatment Effects in Instrumental Variable Models," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 97, pages 284-292, March.
    30. Kitchens, Carl & Fishback, Price, 2015. "Flip the Switch: The Impact of the Rural Electrification Administration 1935–1940," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 75(4), pages 1161-1195, December.
    31. Tanguy Bernard, 2012. "Impact Analysis of Rural Electrification Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa," The World Bank Research Observer, World Bank, vol. 27(1), pages 33-51, February.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Enrico Nano, 2022. "Electrifying Nigeria: the Impact of Rural Access to Electricity on Kids' Schooling," IHEID Working Papers 03-2022, Economics Section, The Graduate Institute of International Studies.
    2. Simone Tagliapietra & Giovanni Occhiali & Enrico Nano & Robert Kalcik, 2020. "The impact of electrification on labour market outcomes in Nigeria," Economia Politica: Journal of Analytical and Institutional Economics, Springer;Fondazione Edison, vol. 37(3), pages 737-779, October.
    3. Dendup, Ngawang, 2022. "Returns to grid electricity on firewood and kerosene: Mechanism," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 111(C).
    4. Santosh Kumar & Ganesh Rauniyar, 2018. "The impact of rural electrification on income and education: Evidence from Bhutan," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 22(3), pages 1146-1165, August.
    5. Thomas, Daniel Robert & Harish, S.P. & Kennedy, Ryan & Urpelainen, Johannes, 2020. "The effects of rural electrification in India: An instrumental variable approach at the household level," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 146(C).
    6. David Boisclair & Roxane Borgès Da Silva & Nathalie de Marcellis-Warin & Pierre-Carl Michaud & Ingrid Peignier, 2022. "Combien de personnes ont développé des symptômes ou contracté la Covid-19 au Québec ? Une étude exploratoire," CIRANO Working Papers 2022s-05, CIRANO.
    7. Ngawang Dendup, 2021. "Returns to Grid Electricity on Firewood Consumption and Mechanism," Working Papers 2109, Waseda University, Faculty of Political Science and Economics.
    8. Jacopo Bonan & Stefano Pareglio & Massimo Tavoni, 2014. "Access to Modern Energy: a Review of Impact Evaluations," Working Papers 2014.96, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    9. Gupta, Ridhima & Pelli, Martino, 2021. "Electrification and cooking fuel choice in rural India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 146(C).
    10. Deutschmann, Joshua W. & Postepska, Agnieszka & Sarr, Leopold, 2021. "Measuring willingness to pay for reliable electricity: Evidence from Senegal," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 138(C).
    11. Miguel, Edward & Wolfram, Catherine & Lee, Kenneth, 2016. "Experimental Evidence on the Demand for and Costs of Rural Electrification," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt1s55t761, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
    12. Meriggi, Niccolò F. & Bulte, Erwin & Mobarak, Ahmed Mushfiq, 2021. "Subsidies for technology adoption: Experimental evidence from rural Cameroon," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 153(C).
    13. Michael Grimm & Luciane Lenz & Jörg Peters & Maximiliane Sievert, 2020. "Demand for Off-Grid Solar Electricity: Experimental Evidence from Rwanda," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(3), pages 417-454.
    14. Richard S. J. Tol, 2023. "Navigating the energy trilemma during geopolitical and environmental crises," Papers 2301.07671, arXiv.org.
    15. Koima, Josephat, 2024. "School electrification and academic outcomes in rural Kenya," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 166(C).
    16. Richmond, Jennifer & Urpelainen, Johannes, 2019. "Electrification and appliance ownership over time: Evidence from rural India," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 133(C).
    17. Duncan Chaplin & Arif Mamun & Ali Protik & John Schurrer & Divya Vohra & Kristine Bos & Hannah Burak & Laura Meyer & Anca Dumitrescu & Christopher Ksoll & Thomas Cook, "undated". "Grid Electricity Expansion in Tanzania by MCC: Findings from a Rigorous Impact Evaluation, Final Report," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 144768f69008442e96369195e, Mathematica Policy Research.
    18. Meles, Tensay Hadush, 2020. "Impact of power outages on households in developing countries: Evidence from Ethiopia," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(C).
    19. Holstenkamp, Lars, 2019. "What do we know about cooperative sustainable electrification in the global South? A synthesis of the literature and refined social-ecological systems framework," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 307-320.
    20. Lenz, Luciane & Munyehirwe, Anicet & Peters, Jörg & Sievert, Maximiliane, 2017. "Does Large-Scale Infrastructure Investment Alleviate Poverty? Impacts of Rwanda’s Electricity Access Roll-Out Program," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 88-110.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • Q40 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - General

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26528. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: the person in charge (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.