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Does basic energy access generate socioeconomic benefits? A field experiment with off-grid solar power in India

Aklin, Michaël and Bayer, Patrick and Harish, S. P. and Urpelainen, Johannes (2017) Does basic energy access generate socioeconomic benefits? A field experiment with off-grid solar power in India. Science Advances, 3 (5). e1602153. ISSN 2375-2548

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This article assesses the socioeconomic effects of solar microgrids. The lack of access to electricity is a major obstacle to the socioeconomic development of more than a billion people. Off-grid solar technologies hold potential as an affordable and clean solution to satisfy basic electricity needs. We conducted a randomized field experiment in India to estimate the causal effect of off-grid solar power on electricity access and broader socioeconomic development of 1281 rural households. Within a year, electrification rates in the treatment group increased by 29 to 36 percentage points. Daily hours of access to electricity increased only by 0.99 to 1.42 hours, and the confidence intervals are wide. Kerosene expenditure on the black market decreased by 47 to 49 rupees per month. Despite these strong electrification and expenditure effects, we found no systematic evidence for changes in savings, spending, business creation, time spent working or studying, or other broader indicators of socioeconomic development.


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Item Type: Article
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Aklin, Michaë
Bayer, Patrick
Harish, S. P.
Urpelainen, Johannes
Date: 17 May 2017
Date Type: Publication
Journal or Publication Title: Science Advances
Volume: 3
Number: 5
Publisher: American Association for the Advancement of Science
Page Range: e1602153
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1126/sciadv.1602153
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Political Science
Refereed: No
ISSN: 2375-2548
Official URL:
Article Type: Research Article
Date Deposited: 11 May 2020 14:54
Last Modified: 11 May 2020 14:54


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