The Role of Flexibility and Planning in Repayment Discipline: Evidence from a Field Experiment on Pay-as-You-Go Off-Grid Electricity
This new working paper from the RFF-CMCC European Institute on Economics & the Environment examines flexible payment schedules for solar systems in Sindh, Pakistan. The paper finds that flexibility and adequate planning may help poor households pay their energy bills for sustainable off-grid energy solutions.
Flexibility can help households with irregular income flows meet their payment obligations. On the other hand, the rigidity of payment schedules is believed to foster discipline and reduce defaults. We test the impact of a novel form of flexibility, the ability to set one’s own payment schedule within a month, on payment performance through a field experiment with customers of a prepaid solar systems provider in rural southern Pakistan. We combine contract flexibility with planning prompts, to mitigate its potentially negative effects on repayment. We find that flexibility in isolation negatively affects payment quality, but that combining it with planning prompts offsets this negative effect, producing behavioral outcomes that are indistinguishable from those associated with a rigid payment schedule. While treatment impacts are short-lived, they result in significant effects on contract cancellation in the long term. Our findings have implications for the applicability of planning interventions to behavioral outcomes requiring sustained effort, and for the design of contract flexibility when technological developments make frequent payments possible.
Resources Magazine — Oct 4, 2023
Resources for the Future Welcomes Three New Fellows
Resources for the Future welcomes three new fellows to the research team whose work spans electricity markets, international climate policy, state and local policies, and environmental justice: Jenya Kahn-Lang, Milan Elkerbout, and Suzanne Russo.
Resources Radio — Oct 3, 2023
Cutting the Queue and Emissions in the US Power Sector, with Will Gorman
Will Gorman discusses the interconnection queue (the waiting list for developers that hope to connect power plants to the US electric grid), the reasons for recent growth in wait times, and reforms that could speed up the queue.
Common Resources — Sep 28, 2023
Designing Climate Policy for the Electricity Sector
Recent federal policy incentivizes low-carbon electricity generation. This conversation shares insights from experts about additional policy approaches that can help decarbonize the electricity sector while addressing environmental justice.
On the Issues — Sep 22, 2023
On the Issues: Equitable Climate Policy, Value of a Statistical Life, and More
A biweekly newsletter connecting global current events, pressing climate and energy policy news, and economics research from RFF scholars. This week: equitable climate policy, value of a statistical life, and more.