(En-) 'lightening' Children: Assessing the Impacts of Access to Electricity on Children's Achievement Levels. 2023. [PDF] [Online Appendix]. Review of Development Economics. https://doi.org/10.1111/rode.13042. With Somdeep Chatterjee and Jai Kamal.
Abstract: The welfare impacts of electrification are well documented in the literature, including the effects of electricity on school enrollment. However, the spillover effects of electrification on children’s achievement levels are scarce. We use three complementary but distinct econometric models to establish a causal relationship between electrification and test scores using nationally representative household panel data from India. We find positive results irrespective of the choice of econometric model, and these results seem to be mediated by changing time-use patterns of children with access to electricity. We first exploit the plausibly exogenous variation in access to electricity due to a universal electrification program in the state of West Bengal in India and we find positive effects of electrification on children’s test scores. By age group, we find that younger cohorts benefit more in terms of their reading scores than older cohorts. Then, to ascertain external validity of these results, we replicate them over a nationally representative sample using fixed effects and instrumental variables estimation and find similar results. At the intensive margin, we find that access to more hours of electricity positively affects test scores. We identify an increase in time spent by children on study-related activities as the potential channel for these results.