Fear of the Dark? How Access to Electric Lighting Affects Security Attitudes and Nighttime Activities in Rural Senegal


  • Gunther Bensch Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung
  • Jörg Peters Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung
  • Sievert Maximiliane Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung


Providing access to electricity is widely considered a precondition for socio-economic improvement in rural areas of developing countries. While electrification interventions are often expected to reduce poverty through their application in income generating purposes (business), the reality of rural usage patterns suggests a different actuality, with electricity being used for lighting and entertainment devices only. It is particularly lighting, with its implications for security and convenience, which explains the importance assigned to electrification. This paper investigates the effects of Solar Home System (SHS) electricity usage on lighting consumption and activities after nightfall, applying cross-sectional household-level data from rural Senegal. We apply a new matching algorithm to control for a possible self-selection into SHS ownership and find substantially higher lighting usage and study time for school children after nightfall. We also find some indication for improvements in perceived security. Keywords: Electricification; Senegal; socio-economic impacts; attitude, perception