Community Electrification and Women’s Autonomy

Vol: 
21/2023
Author name: 
Bhukta R
Pakrashi D
Saha S
Sedai AK
Year: 
2023
Month: 
April
Abstract: 

This study examines the effects of community-level electrification on women’s social autonomy in India using panel household survey data, administrative data and satellite data spanning over two decades. Using flexible difference-in-difference estimators, we find higher community-level electricity hours reduce incidence of sexual violence against women, and improve women’s mobility, fertility choices and access to health care. Results are robust when using night-time luminosity as an alternative indicator of community electrification, most recent data on reliability of electricity and alternative longitudinal estimation techniques. Heterogeneity analysis shows that the effects are stronger in rural areas compared to urban areas. We identify four main channels through which electricity impacts women’s autonomy: paid employment, education, exposure to mass media and safety.

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