What Makes Rural Households Use Traditional Fuel? Empirical Evidence from India
This paper investigates the effects of different types of cooking fuels on the technical efficiency of household meal production in rural India. Rural households in India use for cooking either traditional fuels like firewood, dung, crop residue, and coal or modern fuels like liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and kerosene, or a combination of both traditional and modern fuels. Using the stochastic frontier method, this paper estimates the influence of different types of cooking fuel and other household level characteristics on the technical efficiency of household meal production. We use a representative sample of 3880 rural households from the India Human Development Survey, 2008. Our results indicate that efficiency of meal preparation is significantly higher when households use either a traditional or a combination of both traditional and modern fuels than if they use modern fuels alone. Thus, results of this paper shed light on reasons other than cost behind the overwhelming popularity of traditional fuels in spite of their adverse health and environmental effects. This result is likely to be driven by the capacity constraint imposed by LPG and kerosene burners in cooking a large quantity of food at a time. Our study identifies use of traditional fuel as a viable option for reducing energy poverty in rural India, and recommends extensive policy for supplying improved wood burning cook stoves and afforestation to reduce the harmful pollution effects of open fire. The policy makers should also emphasize on provision of biogas plant and biomass gasifier along with afforestation. Further, our study recognizes the need for developing and supplying more efficient cooking stoves for modern fuels to promote higher use of clean energy sources. Our results also suggest policy intervention in improving women’s education, household income, provision of ration card, and providing government support in acquiring improved cooking stoves for increasing efficiency of meal production at the household level.
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