The power of light: socio-economic and environmental implications of a rural electrification program in Brazil

Universal access to electricity is deemed critical for improving living standards and indispensable for eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable development. In 2003, the 'Luz para Todos' (LpT—Light for All) program was launched aiming to universalize access to electricity in Brazil. The program focused on rural and isolated areas, also targeting to bring development to those regions along with electrification. This paper evaluates the results of the LpT program in improving socio-economic development in the poorest regions of Brazil. After an initial qualitative analysis, an empirical quantitative assessment of the influence of increased electrification rates on the components of the Human Development Index (HDI) is performed. The empirical results of this study showed that electrification had a positive influence on all dimensions of the HDI, with the education component having the strongest effect. Although complementary policies were needed to achieve this, results show that electricity access is a major requirement to improve quality of life.

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