One-off subsidies and long-run adoption: experimental evidence on improved cooking stoves in Senegal

Free distribution of a technology can be an effective development policy instrument if its adoption is socially inefficient and hampered by affordability constraints. Improved cookstoves may be such a case: they generate high environmental and public health returns, but adoption is generally low. Based on a randomized controlled trial in rural Senegal, this paper studies whether one-time free cookstove distribution affects households’ willingness to pay (WTP) in the long run. Effects might be negative because people anchor their WTP on the earlier zero price (reference dependence) or positive because information deficits about potential benefits are overcome.

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