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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
Last updated
August 13, 2014 3:49 PM EDT
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. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.479-1.0.
Former Citation
Burgess, Robin et al. 2014. "Lighting Up Bihar: Electricity Service Delivery as a Collection Action Problem." AEA RCT Registry. August 13. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/479/history/2460.
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)
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Is the intervention completed?
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
Program Files
Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)