Ruhr Economic Papers

Ruhr Economic Papers #498

Why Do Households Forego High Returns from Technology Adoption - Evidence from Improved Cook Stoves in Burkina Faso

by Gunther Bensch, Michael Grimm and Jörg Peters

RWI, 08/2014, 31 S./p., 8 Euro, ISBN 978-3-86788-571-3 DOI: 10.4419/86788571



Around 3 billion people in developing countries rely on woodfuels for their daily cooking needs with profound negative implications for their workload, health, and budget as well as the environment. Improved cookstove (ICS) technologies in many cases appear to be an obvious solution. Despite continuous efforts of the international community to disseminate ICS, take up rates in most developing countries are strikingly low. In this paper, we examine the reasons for (non-)adoption of a very simple ICS in urban Burkina Faso. As a first result, we find that ICS users save between 20 and 30 percent of fuels compared to traditional stoves making the investment a very profitable one. Nonetheless, adoption rates are low at a mere 10 percent. It turns out that the major deterrent of adoption are the upfront investment costs – which are much more important than access to information, taste preferences, or the woman’s role in the household. These findings suggest that more direct promotion strategies such as subsidies would help the household to overcome its liquidity constraints and hence improve adoption rates.

JEL-Classification: D01, D12, D80, O33

Keywords: Household technology adoption; liquidity constraints; weak beliefs; norms and traditions; energy access; Sub-Saharan Africa

Published as:

Bensch, G., M. Grimm and J. Peters (2015), Why Do Households Forego High Returns from Technology Adoption? Evidence from Improved Cooking Stoves in Burkina Faso. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 116 : 187-205. DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2015.04.023