Lights Off, Lights On: The Effects of Electricity Shortages on Small Firms

Journal Article
Published on 9 November 2019

Working paper available through PEDL. Published article available here.


Entrepreneurs in developing countries report that unreliable electricity imposes a serious constraint, yet little evidence exists on how blackouts impact the micro-firms that account for the majority of employment. Hardy and McCasland  (2019) estimate the effects of outages on small firms using original firm-level panel data and finds evidence of differential effects by firm size. Firms without employees experience large reductions in revenues and profits. Outages have no measurable effect on the output of firms with employees, where worker hours increase, weekly wages paid decrease, and the analysis fails to reject the null hypothesis that blackouts have no effect on (average firm-level) worker hourly wages.


Morgan Hardy

New York University, Abu Dhabi

Jamie McCasland

University of British Columbia