FOR sunny places not connected to the electricity grid, the falling price of solar panels and LED lighting promises a bright future. No more smoky, lung-damaging kerosene lamps. Greater security and safety. More ways to connect with the world—even if that involves only something as simple as being able to charge a mobile phone. And, above all, the chance to work or study into the evening and thus improve both a family’s immediate economic circumstances and its children’s future prospects.
It is a tale of hope. But as a study just published in Science Advances, by Michaël Aklin of the University of Pittsburgh and his colleagues, shows, these potentially glowing benefits can in some cases amount to not very much at all.
More than 1bn people around the world have no access to electricity.