Long-Term Gains from Electrification

We know surprisingly little about the long-run impacts of household electrification. In a paper “Long-term Gains from Electrification in Rural India,” (with Dominique van de Walle, Vibhuti Mendiratta and Gayatri Koolwal) I have studied the impacts on consumption in rural India over a 17 year period, allowing for both internal and external (village-level) effects.

Under our identifying assumptions, electrification brought significant consumption gains for households who acquired electricity for their own use. We also find evidence of a dynamic effect of village connectivity for households without electricity themselves. This is suggestive of an external effect, which also comes with a shift in consumption spending suggestive of status concerns among those still without electricity. Labor earnings were an important channel of impact. This was mainly through extra work by men. There was no effect on average wage rates.

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