Document Type

Research Paper

Publication Date



Abundant evidence has shown that expanding access to electricity dramat- ically widens access to education, healthcare, and equality. However, the liter- ature on the direct impacts of electrification on air quality and health is still in its infancy. While electricity access can lead to higher outdoor air pollution due to increased reliance on fossil fuel combustion, its usage lowers indoor air pollution as households switch from burning solid fuels to using electricity and become distanced from the source of pollution. Contributing to the nascent lit- erature, this article represents the first quantitative examination of this trade- off between the overall emission level and the degree of population exposure to pollution due to electrification. The study draws on the representative Vietnam Household Living Standards Surveys to examine environmental and health out- comes and estimates a satellite-based measure of commune electrification rate using the DMSP/OLS nighttime satellite images and Landscan population grid. I find that although electrification increases the probability that air pollution is among the most pressing environmental issues in a commune, it reduces the probability that a commune reports air quality-related illnesses as one of its top three main health concerns. Thus, as hypothesized, this paper presents ev- idence that electrification alleviates air pollution-related health problems even as it worsens outdoor air quality.



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