Household Electrification and Labor Supply: Experimental Evidence from El Salvador

Last registered on April 02, 2020


Trial Information

General Information

Household Electrification and Labor Supply: Experimental Evidence from El Salvador
Initial registration date
March 31, 2020

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
April 02, 2020, 12:16 PM EDT

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


Primary Investigator

Universidad del Pacifico

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
We study the adoption and effects of household electrification in northern El Salvador. We generated household-level exogenous variation in connection cost by offering time-limited subsidies towards a $100 fee that had to be paid by households who wanted to connect to the grid. Vouchers increased grid connection which, in turn, increased female nonfarm employment, home business operation, and earnings. These effects persist four years after baseline. Male outcomes were largely unaffected. We feed the experimental results into an intertemporal choice model and find a parameter of present bias of 0.75, suggesting quasi-hyperbolic discounting as an additional barrier to electricity adoption.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Barron, Manuel and Maximo Torero. 2020. "Household Electrification and Labor Supply: Experimental Evidence from El Salvador." AEA RCT Registry. April 02.
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Experimental Details


The study took place during a grid extension and intensification program in northern El Salvador, designed to be rolled-out in three phases according to construction costs and accessibility. The study design is described in detail in Barron and Torero (2017). In this program, the El Salvadorian government covered all the installation costs up to the electric meter, and households had to pay for their internal wiring and a US$ 100 fee for a safety certification.

The experimental sample consists of 550 off-grid households located in subdistricts that were scheduled to be covered by the program during its first year. We generated experimental variation in the connection cost by offering discount vouchers to a randomly selected subsample. We randomly allocated 200 low-discount vouchers (20% discount), 200 high-discount vouchers (50% discount), and left the remainder households as control group (N=150).

Vouchers were valid for a discount towards the safety certification to be reimbursed after paying the full cost. Each voucher showed the name and address of the beneficiary, it was non-transferable, and it was valid for nine months. Selected households received the discount vouchers a few weeks after the baseline survey, in a separate visit by personnel from a local NGO not linked to the survey or our enumerators.

To prevent the control group from delaying their adoption decisions because they expected to receive a discount voucher in the future, the field staff was explicit in explaining to voucher recipients that all existing vouchers had already been assigned to households. Voucher recipients followed the same procedure as the general public when applying for a grid connection, taking their receipt to the NGO for reimbursements. Hence, neither inspectors nor the electric company had reasons to prioritize voucher recipients.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Labor supply, participation in nonfarm employment, operation of home business, income; by gender.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Labor variables are indicators of participation, income is measured in US dollars.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Time allocation, appliance ownership
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Time allocation is measured in minutes of the day. Appliance ownership variables indicate if households own: blender, computer, DVD player, fan, fridge, iron, microwave, radio, sewing machine, stereo, TV, washing machine.

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
200 Randomly selected households received $50 discount vouchers
200 Randomly selected households received $20 discount vouchers
150 Randomly selected households received no vouchers
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
550 households
Sample size: planned number of observations
550 households x 5 yearly surveys
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
200 households in each treatment arm, 150 households in the control group
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
December 31, 2014, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Data Collection Completion Date
December 31, 2013, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
494 household
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
494 households
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
134 households control, 178 households in low-discount, 182 households in high-discount.
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials