Leaving the hearth you know: Internal migration and energy poverty

This article has been published in World Development

We document the relationship between rural–urban migration and energy poverty in South Africa using a nationally representative panel dataset. Employing a dynamic difference-in-differences approach, we track changes in energy poverty for migrants and non-migrants over a ten-year period from 2008 to 2017. Our findings show that migrants to urban areas experience significant reductions in energy poverty, particularly in the use of traditional cooking fuels. Even when approximately 20% of new urban arrivals initially live in informal shack dwellings, where energy access gains are minimal, migration proves beneficial in the long run. Our study also explores energy poverty outcomes for both sending and receiving households, gender differences among migrants, and other amenities.

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