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Household Electrification and Indoor Air Pollution

Barron, Manuel and Torero, Maximo (2015): Household Electrification and Indoor Air Pollution.

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This paper provides the first empirical evidence that household electrification leads to direct and substantial welfare improvements via reductions in indoor air pollution. In the setting of a recent electrification program in northern El Salvador, we exploit a unique data-set on minute-by-minute fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) concentration within the framework of a clean experimental design. Two years after baseline, overnight PM 2.5 concentration was on average 67% lower among households that were randomly encouraged to connect compared to those that were not. This change is driven by reductions in kerosene use. As a result, the incidence of acute respiratory infections among children under 6 fell by 65% among connected households. Estimates of exposure measures suggest large health gains for all household members, but these gains are unequally distributed by gender. In addition, we show that when the electrification rate among the non-encouraged group caught up with that of the encouraged group, the effects in the former group were similar to those in the latter.

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