Fieldwork in Uttar Pradesh, India, June 2016

Rural Energy Access

This is part of joint work with Johannes Urpelainen (JHU SAIS) and Brian Blankenship (Dartmouth).

Quality of electricity service remains poor in many developing countries such as India. To improve service, increased payments would be necessary as utilities readily suffer large losses. Are people not willing to pay for better electricity quality because they feel entitled to electricity provision, or is it because they do not trust one another to also do their part?

In a survey conducted in rural Uttar Pradesh, India, we examine factors that influence stated willingness to pay for better service (i.e., more hours of power per day) among rural households. Our results indicate that the general levels of trust are low, and that entitlement plays less of a role as to whether households are willing or not to contribute to improved electricity quality. Low willingness to pay remains a major obstacle to pricing reform. Generalized trust is strongly associated with higher willingness to pay for better electricity. Delays in service improvements and a lack of community support for pricing reform reduce willingness to pay for better quality.

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