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Adding fuel to human capital: Exploring the educational effects of cooking fuel choice from rural India

Shreya Biswas and Upasak Das

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Abstract: The study examines the effect of cooking fuel choice on educational outcomes of adolescent children in rural India. Using multiple large-scale nationally representative datasets, we observe household solid fuel usage to adversely impact school attendance, years of schooling and age-appropriate grade progression among children. This inference is robust to alternative ways of measuring educational outcomes, other datasets, specifications and estimation techniques. Importantly, the effect is found to be more pronounced for females in comparison to the males highlighting the gendered nature of the impact. On exploring possible pathways, we find that the direct time substitution on account of solid fuel collection and preparation can explain the detrimental educational outcomes that include learning outcomes as well, even though we are unable to reject the health channel. In the light of the micro and macro level vulnerabilities posed by the COVID-19 outbreak, the paper recommends interventions that have the potential to fasten the household energy transition towards clean fuel in the post-covid world.

Date: 2021-06
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