Susanna Berkouwer

Alumni, Fellowship Recipient, Rocca Pre-dissertation Research
Country Expertise: Kenya
Fellowship Year(s): 2019
Project/Theme Title: Behavioral and market determinants of energy consumption in Kenya
Language: French , Language: Spanish , Language: Swahili
Abstracts: We quantify behavioral biases and market frictions affecting poor households’ adoption of energy efficient durables in the context of charcoal cookstoves in Nairobi. Over 80% of Nairobi households depend on charcoal, spending up to 25% of the budget on cooking fuels. While a substantial literature studies how behavioral anomalies contribute to the energy efficiency gap in the US, little work exists in a development setting. In low-income environments, biases could be exacerbated by stress associated with poverty; or, because poverty makes large, durable purchases high-stakes, poorer individuals might make decisions more carefully. We study how inattention to future savings, concentration bias, and present bias interact with credit constraints to cause under-adoption in this context. This will be the first paper to quantify the energy efficiency gap, identify the mechanisms driving it, and it will do so in a high-stakes development setting.
Fellowship Year(s): 2018
Project/Theme Title: Behavioral and market determinants of household energy efficiency in a development context
Abstracts: We quantify behavioral biases and market frictions affecting poor households’ adoption and usage of energy efficient durables in the context of charcoal cookstoves in Nairobi. Over 80% of Nairobi households depend on charcoal, spending up to 25% of the budget on cooking fuels. While a substantial literature studies how behavioral anomalies and failures of rationality—self-control problems, incorrect beliefs, and limited attention—contribute to the US energy efficiency gap, little work exists in a development setting. In low-income environments, biases could be exacerbated by stress associated with poverty; or, because poverty makes large, durable purchases high-stakes, poorer individuals might make decisions more carefully. Market frictions common in developing settings, like liquidity constraints and asymmetric information, might exacerbate biases. This will be the first paper to quantify the energy efficiency gap, identify the mechanisms driving it, and estimate its welfare effects; and it will do so in a high-stakes development setting.
Fellowship Year(s): 2017
Project/Theme Title: Essays in Development and Energy Economics