Impact of Rural Electrification on Fertility in Bangladesh
IDE Research Bulletin
We used a household panel dataset from Bangladesh to examine the relationship between fertility and the adoption of electricity where the latter is instrumented by the quality of service delivery. We find that the adoption of electricity reduces the fertility by one child or more. This finding is robust to the choice of covariates, estimation methods, and various measures of electricity adoption. Our finding is also consistent with our simple household model in which adoption of electricity affects only the optimal number of children but not necessarily current fertility behavior if the optimal number has not yet been reached. In the second analysis, we offer micro-econometric evidence for a positive impact of rural electrification on the nutritional status of children under five as measured by height-for-age Z-score (HAZ) in rural Bangladesh. In most estimates, access to electricity is found to improve HAZ by more than 0.15 points and this positive impact comes from the channels of increased wealth and reduced fertility, even though the evidence for the latter is weak. We also analyze the causal channels through the local health facility and exposure to television. We find no evidence for the presence of the former channel and mixed evidence for the latter.