Non-payment for electricity is holding back a global push to extend electricity access to the 1.2 billion people off the grid. India, Ghana, Myanmar, Uganda—countries around the world are raising electrification rates with the goal of powering future economic growth. The success of these efforts will depend on whether the companies that supply power, typically state-run electricity distribution monopolies, are willing and able to pay for energy for the poor people they connect. Yet distribution companies across the developing world are chronically loss-making and often cannot collect on the energy they supply, due to agency problems and theft. Consequently, they provide rationed, erratic supply, which undercuts the economic value of power.
Through large-scale field experiment in Bihar, on how to efficiently collect electricity revenue through public agents. The outcomes are measured as changes in revenue, customer service, and electricity supply quality and introduce a new revealed-preference field measure of customer-employee collusion.
This project is supported by the Tata Centre for Development at UChicago.