Electrification and welfare for the marginalized: Evidence from India
Uneven electrification can be a source of welfare disparity. Given the recent progress of electrification in India, we analyze the differences in access and reliability of electricity, and its impact on household welfare for marginalized and dominant social groups by caste and religion. We carry out longitudinal analysis from a national survey, 2005–2012, using OLS, fixed effects and panel instrumental variable regressions. Our analysis shows that marginalized groups (Hindu SC/ST and Muslims) had higher likelihood of electricity access compared to the dominant groups (Hindu forward castes and OBC). In terms of electricity reliability, in a period when the all households lost electricity hours, marginalized groups lost less electricity hours in a day as compared to domi- nant groups. Results showed that electrification enabled marginalized households to increase their consumption, assets and move out of poverty, but the effect was smaller as compared to dominant groups. Overall, the effects were more pronounced in rural areas. The findings are robust to alternative ways of measuring consumption, and other robustness checks. We posit that electrification increased household welfare of marginalized groups, but did not reduce absolute disparities among social groups.
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