UBC Theses and Dissertations
A behavioral perspective on transition pathways to clean cooking fuels : the case of liquefied petroleum gas usage in India Kar, Abhishek
About 2.9 billion people, primarily in rural areas of low-income countries, do not have access to clean cooking fuels (e.g. gas and electricity). Instead, they burn solid fuels (e.g. firewood and coal) in polluting primitive cookstoves. These traditional cooking methods and associated solid fuel gathering practices, contribute to gender inequalities, forest degradation, climate change and millions of premature deaths annually due to air pollution. Even when households adopt (acquire) clean cooking solutions, often both solid and clean fuels are used. Past research has rarely focused on post-adoption fuel choices. Moreover, while socio-economic demographics like income and education are identified as key transition factors, these are not amenable to near-term change. I drew upon three influential behavior change and technology adoption theories to develop a conceptual framework of self-regulatory behavior change to understand post-adoption usage and expedite the transition process. I developed hypotheses involving psychological variables to explain the how and why of transition across the pre and post-adoption periods, which I tested in the context of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) use in rural India. I accessed gas purchase records for all LPG users (N= 25,000) across 126 villages in Karnataka and administered two cross-sectional household sample surveys (n1=402, n2= 205). Three novel insights emerge from this research. First, the majority of consumers do not use LPG as their primary cooking fuel and, contrary to studies based on self-reports, LPG use does not increase with experience or familiarity. This highlights the need for post-adoption interventions. Second, in line with theory, the transition is a five-stage process, wherein people in different stages have significantly different perceptions of the advantages, disadvantages, and self-confidence related to regular LPG use. Further, perceived disadvantages emerge as more influential during the transition compared to household wealth, highlighting the need for behavior change strategies. Third, the comparison of self-reports of use with purchase data shows 2/3rd of respondents over-reporting LPG use, highlighting the need to account for survey biases. Overall, the dissertation shows that the application of behavior change theories and the use of fuel sales data provided valuable insights about post-adoption fuel choice decisions.
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