The Impact of Energy Access on Mothers’ Health, Labor, and Time Allocation

This paper shows that, for mothers in Cebu, Philippines, access to electricity and the type of cooking fuel used at home affect both health outcomes and also how time is allocated, including for paid work. First, the use of fuelwood for cooking adversely affects the health of mothers, who are traditionally responsible for cooking and are often at home, taking care of their families. This result is consistent across different econometric specifications. Second, shifting to a more efficient source of energy allows women more time to be engaged in the labor force, including in micro enterprises. It also enables them to reallocate their time and efforts away from household chores (cooking, tending animals, and childcare) toward caring for themselves (improved personal hygiene and rest). Drafting and strengthening existing gender-sensitive energy policies and programs can, therefore, help the welfare of mothers in the Philippines, where 54% of households rely on fuelwood, and where the resulting indoor air pollution has a particularly adverse impact on women. The analysis relies on a longitudinal data set (CLHNS 1994-2005).

Keywords: Energy access; time allocation; health of mothers; labor participation of mothers; Philippines; CLHNS