Fuelling down after a lockdown: Effects of the first COVID wave on clean fuel usage in India

Upasak Das, Shreya Biswas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study explores the effect of the outbreak of COVID-19 on clean fuel adoption in rural India. We make use of the fifth wave of the National Family and Health Survey conducted from 2019 to 2021, focusing on districts which the survey was conducted during in the pre-pandemic and post-first wave periods. By utilizing the exposure of households to the pandemic, depending on the date of the survey for identification, we find that the first wave of the pandemic led to a significant reduction in the use of clean fuel for cooking purposes. We are able to establish that this decline is not a mere time trend, since we do not find any evidence of a negative trend in clean fuel usage during the pre-pandemic period. Additionally, we do not observe any reduction in households from states where the survey was conducted entirely during the pre-pandemic period. Our results remain robust in the presence of potential endogeneity due to unobserved factors in the system. Even when employing a difference-in-difference model using the previous round of the survey, we find a lower likelihood of clean fuel usage among households where the survey was conducted after the first wave vis-à-vis those surveyed in the pre-pandemic period. Nevertheless, the impact appears to be adverse for the relatively more vulnerable households. The findings underscore the need for policies, like subsidies and reducing refilling costs of liquefied petroleum gas cylinders, to sustain clean fuel use in the wake of the pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106940
JournalEnergy Economics
Early online date9 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2023


  • COVID-19 effects
  • Clean fuel
  • First wave
  • India
  • NFHS 5


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