The Need for Impact Evaluation in Electricity Access Research
Energy Policy, 2019
32 Pages Posted: 19 Nov 2019
Date Written: November 8, 2019
Universal household electrification is a key component of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, but the evidence base for social and economic impacts of electricity access remains unclear. Here we report results from a systematic review of impact evaluations of household electrification. We only find 31 studies that conduct statistical hypothesis tests to assess impacts. Among these, seven draw on a randomized experiment designed for causal inference. The randomized experimental studies generate fewer positive results than observational or quasi-experimental studies, such as correlational, instrumental variable, and difference-in-differences designs. These results call for a reassessment of what we know about the impacts of household electrification. They also call for major investment in impact evaluation of electricity access using randomized controlled trials, with a particular focus on when and how energy access interventions can furnish large benefits to their intended beneficiaries. Large-scale impact evaluations using experimental methods will require close collaboration between policymakers and researchers.
Keywords: impact evaluation, electricity access, observational and experimental methods, causal inference, sustainable development
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