A Brighter Future: The Impact of Rural School Electrification Programs on the Dropout Rate in Primary Education in Brazil

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Dec 2018
School electrification can decrease the gap between rural and urban education. The Brazilian policy focusing on electricity access in school decreased student’s dropout rate. Rural electrification programs – like Light for All – have been successful in increasing access to electricity services in Brazil, where 99.3% of the population has access. In terms of the public policy viewpoint, the cost-benefit analysis must consider not only the direct impact of the programs but also its positive externalities. In this paper, we study Light for All in Schools (LFAS, “Luz para Todos nas Escolas”), a program focused on providing access to electricity to rural schools. The study aims to measure the effect of access to electricity in rural schools on the dropout rate of students in primary education. Our goal is to create a dialogue between the studies on the benefits of electricity in vulnerable areas and the studies on education outcomes. Our results show that electrification programs, like the LFAS, have a significant effect on the dropout rate at rural schools. Schools that received electricity via the program before 2013 had an improvement of 16% (or 0.7 percentage points) in the dropout rate in three years, and schools that received benefits from program between 2013 and 2016 had an improvement of 27% (or 1 percentage point) in three years due to the access to electricity.