Shades of Darkness or Light? A Systematic Review of Geographic Bias in Impact Evaluations of Electricity Access


Despite the growing use of impact evaluations for electrification interventions, little attention has been paid to the geographical distribution of such evaluations. This is concerning because cultural and regional differences may limit how transferable results across regions are. We undertake a systematic review of the literature and find 31 impact evaluations of electricity access in 16 countries that meet our criteria for statistical hypothesis testing of development outcomes. India accounts for a quarter of the impact evaluations. Given the large non-electrified population in India, this is still a small number, roughly comparable to Nigeria or Kenya. South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are the most underrepresented regions. We find more positive impacts from electricity access, on average, for South Asia than for sub-Saharan Africa, which calls for greater attention to geographic bias in future impact evaluations of electrification access.

Energy Research & Social Science 58: 101236. [PDF] [Data and code]