Electricity is not a right: How social norms constrain access to electricity

The norm that electricity is a right, as opposed to a private good, constrains access to energy and leads to widespread rationing in developing countries.

Many developing countries suffer from low electricity access and frequent outages that restrict economic growth. These conditions arise from two primary factors: the norm that electricity is a right guaranteed by the government and the technological constraint that non-payers cannot easily be excluded from electricity access. To fix this problem, energy distributors should consider reforming subsidies, incentivising bill payment, and using technology to facilitate excludability.

This Growth Brief looks at results from research in India and makes policy recommendations on how to shift norms around electricity as a right in developing countries.