This paper estimates the welfare impact of rural electrification in India using nationally representative household panel survey data for 2005 and 2012. Analysis based on a propensity-score-weighted fixed effects model finds that while electrification is associated with a broad range of social and economic benefits, the size of the effects depends importantly on the reliability of electricity service. Gaining access to electricity combined with a reliable power supply is associated with a 17 percent increase in income during the sample period, but gaining access to electricity alone is associated with only a 9.6 percent increase in income. The net gain from both increasing the access rate and reducing power outages in rural India is estimated to be US$11 billion a year. Moreover, India’s rural electrification policy appears to be progressive because lower-income households benefit more from access to electricity than higher-income households during the sample period.
Benefits of Electrification and the Role of Reliability: Evidence from India