The uneven expansion of electricity supply in India

by Gayatri Dewan

We conducted the 10th Consumer Pyramids Household Survey Research Seminar on June 24 2021 at 4.30 PM IST.

Alfonso Martinez Arranz from the University of Melbourne and Robert Thomson from Monash University presented:

The uneven expansion of electricity supply in India

Their paper is coauthored with Steven Zech (Monash University), Ganesh Hegde (IIT Bombay), Dharmalingam Arunachalam (Monash University) and Anand B. Rao (IIT Bombay). It has recently been published in Energy Research & Social Science.

Their work was discussed by Santosh Harish from the Centre for Policy Research.

Resources from the event

  1. You can view a recording of the webinar here.
  2. A copy of their slides is attached to this post.
  3. A summary of the presentation made by the authors can be found here.


This study examines the recent massive expansion of electricity supply in India. With data from over 120,000 observations relating to households across the country in 2014 and 2019, we describe the rapid but uneven increases in hours of supply. We compare three distinct logics of public service delivery that may account for different rates of improvement in electricity supply - the logics of clientelism, incrementalism and maximin. The clientelist logic posits that state-level elected representatives target investments toward local areas where they hold small margins of support to improve their chances of re-election. According to the logic of incrementalism, policymakers focus on policies that are closely aligned with existing policies, which implies that supply increases most in locations where surrounding areas have relatively good electricity supply. The maximin logic, by contrast, posits that the greatest improvements take place in locations that previously had the poorest supply. The evidence supports each of the three logics to some extent, but by far the strongest evidence supports the maximin logic.


- 4.30 to 5.30 PM: Paper presentation

- 5.30 to 6.00 PM: Discussion followed by moderated Q&A

About the CPHS Research Seminar Series

The CPHS Research Seminar Series features work based on the Consumer Pyramids Household Survey. It is a platform for researchers to receive critical and technical feedback from accomplished peers. It is also meant to engage with the larger research community who may gain from technical discussions. You can find all previously presented work on the Events Section of our website. You can also view a recording of every seminar so far at the CPHS Research Seminar Playlist on our YouTube channel.

The Consumer Pyramids Household Survey is India’s largest regular household survey and the world’s largest household panel survey. CPHS has collected data on over 232,000 households and 1.19 million individuals surveyed since 2014. The survey collects information on household demographics, individual identities, employment, health status, financial inclusion, individual and household incomes, consumption expenditures, ownership of assets and intentions to buy them, household amenities and consumer sentiments. Income and expenses data are a monthly time-series since January 2014.


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