Access to reliable electricity and its impact on development

Awasthy, Aayushi (2023) Access to reliable electricity and its impact on development. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

[thumbnail of Final PhD thesis.pdf]
Download (39MB) | Preview


No developed country has low energy consumption. This observation has prompted developing countries to aspire to emulate developed countries into a growth path of high energy consumption through massive electricity access programmes. scholarships looking at causal relationships between energy consumption and development do not support a strong relationship, leading to confusion for policy makers about how to proceed with electricity expansion programmes. India has had the second most rapid electricity access expansion in this millennium, after China but has not achieved the same level of development as China. The electricity in India is decidedly of lower quality than other countries with power cuts being ever present. In the absence of concrete scholarship, electricity has been provided to households but there has been no assurance of hours per day, therefore seemingly being very successful but leading to concrete developmental outcomes. This thesis investigates this relationship with reliable, high quality electricity access and its impact on impacts socioeconomic development.

Chapter 1 investigates the spread of the grid itself and the factors that drove village connection. This paper tracks the rural electrification policy in India from 1947 to 2015 and evaluates the financial, political, and social drivers of the evolution of the electricity grid over time. It uses survival analysis with two survey data sets. In line with previous studies, the paper confirms that cost is an important consideration in the electrification process throughout this period: greater distance from the grid reduces the probability of the village getting electrified. However, it finds other factors are also in play, such as the caste composition of the village, and the caste and gender of the village head. Finally, the number of poor households in the village has a negative and significant effect on the probability of electrification, indicating that the incentives of the distribution company play into the electrification policy.

Chapter 2 examines data spanning two decades (1994-2015), over 41,000 households and nearly 150,000 individuals across 30 Indian states to understand whether the quality of electrification matters for development. The paper finds that good-quality electrification is crucial to increasing individual incomes and that only a sufficiently reliable electricity supply is able to secure these benefits for women in particular. Greater labour force participation and a shift from precarious to non-precarious work are identified as the likely mechanisms through which these gains accrue to individuals. The results suggest that policy targets should focus more explicitly on the quality of electrification.

Chapter 3 uses data from two survey waves covering over 41,000 households and nearly 9000 children in India to examine the links between the reliability of electricity available to households in India and children's learning outcomes and the intervening mechanisms. The results show strong positive links between the reliability of electricity and the probability of children achieving higher maths, reading and writing scores. The two most plausible channels of transmission for these effects are found to be increased time spent on homework and fewer days missed at school. Both girls and boys benefit from more reliable electricity, with no systematic gender differences. These results hold using an alternative, more fine-grained classification of electricity reliability, and there is evidence for causal relationships. The results suggest that reliable electricity is an important component of reaching basic educational policy goals in a developing country context.

Chapter 4 offers an examination of the use of appliances in households with different levels of income and over different vintages of electricity connection. The paper finds that most households keep using very basic appliances even after 5-6 years of having an electricity connection. Most households use electric lighting, a charging point and a fan or TV. There is no significant 'appliance ladder' where households who are using electricity for a while begin using more sophisticated appliances: the data show that households do not in fact move to more and more sophisticated appliances. There is also continued use of kerosene, which previous literature shows has negative health effects. The data also show that appliances that may reduce unpaid household labour are taken up by very few households, implying that this lack of an appliance ladder is particularly serious for women.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Economics
Depositing User: Nicola Veasy
Date Deposited: 19 Mar 2024 15:14
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2024 15:14


Downloads per month over past year

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item