Fiona Burlig

Over 1 billion people lack electricity access. Developing countries are investing billions of dollars in rural electrification, targeting economic growth and poverty reduction, despite limited empirical evidence. We estimate the effects of rural electrification on economic development in the context of India’s national electrification program, which reached over 400,000 villages. We use a regression discontinuity design and high-resolution geospatial data to identify medium-run economic impacts of electrification. We find a substantial increase in electricity use, but reject effects larger than 0.26 standard deviations across numerous measures of economic development, suggesting that rural electrification may be less beneficial than previously thought.

Areas of Focus: Energy Markets
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Energy Markets
Well-functioning markets are essential for providing access to reliable, affordable energy. EPIC research is uncovering the policies, prices and information needed to help energy markets work efficiently.
Electric Power
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Electric Power
As the electric power system faces new pressures and opportunities, EPIC research is working to identify the mix of policies needed to accelerate the global transition to clean, reliable, affordable...
Energy Efficiency
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Energy Efficiency
Improving energy efficiency is lauded as a promising way reduce emissions and lower energy costs. Yet, a robust body of research demonstrates that not all efficiency investments deliver. EPIC faculty...