Lighting Up Bihar: Electricity Service Delivery as a Collection Action Problem

Last registered on August 13, 2014


Trial Information

General Information

Lighting Up Bihar: Electricity Service Delivery as a Collection Action Problem
Initial registration date
August 13, 2014

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
August 13, 2014, 3:49 PM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.



Primary Investigator

J-PAL South Asia

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Chicago
PI Affiliation
Yale University
PI Affiliation
London School of Economics and Political Science
PI Affiliation
University of Chicago

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Each poor person cannot buy urban services alone. Many important urban services are utility or network goods, that are only viable to supply at scale, meaning that each customer’s access depends on the take-up and payments of others. This experiment uses a group-level incentive to address this collective action problem in the context of grid electricity, where high theft and other losses limit investment and supply. The hours of power supply to each neighborhood will be explicitly linked to aggregate payment rates from that area so that higher-paying groups can earn more reliable supply. We test how the response to this incentive in terms of collection revenues and power supply varies with neighborhood size and composition.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Burgess, Robin et al. 2014. "Lighting Up Bihar: Electricity Service Delivery as a Collection Action Problem." AEA RCT Registry. August 13.
Former Citation
Burgess, Robin et al. 2014. "Lighting Up Bihar: Electricity Service Delivery as a Collection Action Problem." AEA RCT Registry. August 13.
Experimental Details


The intervention links the duration of electricity supply to the payment performance of a neighborhood against electricity supplied in the previous month. In this study, consumers are grouped based on the distribution feeder that connects them to the electric grid. Such a feeder typically serves 3,000 consumers. This is the lowest-level at which the distribution companies can control and monitor the hours of supply that is received. It is assumed that consumers that fall under a particular feeder would then act collectively as a group and lead non-payers to improve their payment behavior.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Electricity revenues and payments rates, improvement in payment rates by neighborhood composition (measured by scale of consumption, demographic heterogeneity and heterogeneity in customer types), electricity and energy expenditures, appliance ownership and usage, time-use patterns, business activity and income generation, educational outcomes likely to be affected by electric light (reading comprehension).
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The design of the project is a randomized-controlled trial where the treatment is to link power supply to the neighborhood rate of payment for electricity.

As part of the evaluation, feeders would be randomly assigned to one of the two groups:
1. Treatment: Feeders are supplied electricity according to a set schedule, for urban and rural areas, respectively, and the rate of payment from that feeder in the previous month.
2. Control: Feeders are supplied a standard number of hours of electricity per day at the average number of hours in the schedule for the treatment group.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Random assignment of feeders to the treatment and control arms was performed in Stata. Code for random selection of villages and households for surveying was also run in Stata.
Randomization Unit
The distribution feeder (11kV) is the unit of randomization.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
227 distribution feeders across 6 districts
Sample size: planned number of observations
7,000 households (~227*32) and 8,000 businesses (~227*35)
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
114 feeders treatment
113 feeders control
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)


Post Trial Information

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials