Afridi, F., Debnath, S. and Somanathan, E., 2021. A breath of fresh air: Raising awareness for clean fuel adoption. Journal of Development Economics, p.102674.
Air pollution is amongst the gravest public health concerns worldwide, and indoor sources are the largest contributors in many developing countries. In our study in central India, we randomly assigned villages to a campaign by rural public health workers to either raise awareness about the adverse health effects of smoke from cooking with solid fuels and measures to mitigate them, or combined health awareness with information on the universal cash-back LPG (liquid petroleum gas) subsidy program or a control group in which neither information is provided. Using LPG sales records, we find an insignificant effect of the campaign on the purchase of LPG refills when measured at annual frequency. However, there was an almost 13% rise in refill consumption per month in the combined treatment, accounting for seasonality, monthly price variation and unobserved sub-district heterogeneity. Self-reported electric stove use rose by almost 50%, over the baseline mean of 6%, and the probability that the household had an outlet for smoke or separate kitchen increased by about 5 percentage points due to the treatment. There was no decline in use of solid fuels at the extensive margin, but the intensity of usage fell on some measures. The findings highlight the salience of financial constraints and the importance of the design of public subsidy schemes in inducing regular usage of clean fuels.