I am a PhD Candidate at the UC Berkeley Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and at the Energy Institute at the Haas School of Business. My current research focuses on energy economics in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Previously I worked as a Research Fellow at Harvard University and at NBER, researching environmental regulations and healthcare in India. I studied at Yale University and at the University College London.
317 Giannini Hall, UC Berkeley
PhD Agricultural and Resource Economics, UC Berkeley (2014 - current)
Primary Fields: Development Economics
Environmental and Energy Economics
MS Agricultural and Resource Economics, UC Berkeley (2016)
MA International and Development Economics, Yale University (2013)
BSc Statistics with Economics, University College London (2010)
Behavioral barriers to energy efficiency in development contexts: evidence from cookstoves (with Joshua Dean)
We seek to quantify how behavioral biases and market frictions affect poor households’ adoption and usage of energy efficient durables. While a substantial literature studies how behavioral anomalies and failures of rationality—self-control problems, incorrect beliefs, and limited attention—contribute to the energy efficiency gap in the US (see Gillingham and Palmer for a review), little work exists in a development setting. This is important because biases might operate differently in poor environments. It could be that biases are exacerbated by stress or cognitive load associated with poverty (see Haushofer and Fehr for a review), or it could be that because poverty makes large, durable purchases high-stakes, poorer individuals are more likely to make decisions more carefully. Market frictions common in developing settings, like liquidity constraints and asymmetric information, might further exacerbate any failures of rationality. This will be the first paper to rigorously quantify the energy efficiency gap, causally identify the mechanisms driving this gap, and estimate its welfare effects, and it will do so in a high-stakes development setting. (This study is registered in the AEA RCT Registry, ID AEARCTR-0002484)
The political economy and governance of rural electrification (with Edward Miguel and Catherine Wolfram)
Although governments in low-income countries frequently outsource public good provision to the private sector, the political economy and governance issues in this sphere remain poorly understood. We study outsourced public good provision by a low-capacity state in the context of Kenya’s national Last Mile Connectivity Project, which aims to provide universal household electricity access by 2020 using World Bank and African Development Bank funding. We will collect rich administrative and spatial planning data on the construction process across hundreds of projects. We will complement this with novel field engineering assessments and household surveys to study the channels affecting leakage and technical construction of a nationwide infrastructure project.
Electric heating and the effects of temperature on household electricity consumption in South Africa
Household energy consumption in developing countries is expected to surge in the coming decades. Yet little is known about how daily and seasonal temperature variation drives household electricity demand in developing countries. I use 147,331,296 hourly electricity consumption observations from 5,999 households in South Africa to estimate the effects of temperature on household energy consumption. I flexibly identify a constant log-linear negative temperature response and use a search algorithm that minimizes the Root Mean Squared Error (RMSE) to identify a heating threshold of 23.5C and a cooling threshold of 29.5C. Electricity consumption increases by 2.2% for every 1C decrease below the heating threshold, likely due to reduced electric heating, and increases by 9.7% for every 1C above the cooling threshold. This relationship is driven much more strongly by responses to seasonal temperature changes than by hourly temperature changes within a given week, and is robust to various fixed effects specifications. Holding all else constant, a 3C increase in temperatures would decrease energy consumption by 960.05 kWh per year per household, equivalent to a 4.0% decrease relative to baseline consumption. Widespread use of electric heating due to limited residential gas heating infrastructure combined with low penetration of air conditioning units, both more common in a development setting, likely drive this. These results point to important heterogeneity across regions in how future temperature increases will affect household energy demand.
Secondary school electrification in Western Kenya (with Kenneth Lee and Michael Walker)
We estimate the impact of the rollout of a Kenyan program that connected the vast majority of Kenyan secondary schools to the electricity grid on the number of students taking a secondary completion exam and their exam performance. Using administrative data from western Kenya and a differences-in-differences approach, and controlling for school and time fixed effects, we find no significant impact on either the number of students taking the exams, or on exam scores. We explore secondary school energy usage via an original school survey and find that electricity access is still unreliable for many schools, with over half of schools reporting a blackout in the last three days.