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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Impact of Electricity on Economic Development: A Macroeconomic Perspective


We find that electricity use and access are strongly correlated with economic development, as theory would suggest. Despite large empirical literatures and suggestive case evidence, there are, however, few methodologically strong studies that establish causal effects on an economy-wide basis. There is some evidence that reliability of electricity supply is important for economic growth. We propose that future research focuses on identifying the causal effects of electricity reliability, infrastructure, and access on economic growth; testing the replicability of the literature; and deepening our theoretical understanding of how lack ofavailability of electricity can be a constraint to growth.

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