Infrastructure coverage and the poor: A global perspective

Type Working Paper - World Bank Policy Research Working Paper
Title Infrastructure coverage and the poor: A global perspective
Issue 2551
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2001
The poor in most parts of the world may have electricity (especially in urban areas), but they rarely have water, sewer, and telephone services. When they gain access to local services, however, many do decide to connect. Komives, Whittington, and Wu use the World Bank's Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS) surveys from 15 countries (covering more than 55,500 households) to examine the relationship between infrastructure coverage and household income. The results show that throughout the world all income groups have much higher levels of coverage for electricity than for other formal infrastructure services (in-house piped water service, sewerage service, and private telephone service). In many countries most households in urban areas now have electricity service. As monthly household incomes increase from $100 to $250, coverage of all these infrastructure services rises, but at different rates. The findings confirm that the very poor rarely have these infrastructure services - with exceptions. The very poor often do have electricity if they live in urban areas. The very poor in Eastern Europe and Central Asia have much higher levels of coverage than those elsewhere in the world; they often have electricity, water, sewer, and telephone services. The results also suggest that if the poor gain access to services in their communities, many will decide to connect. This paper - a product of the Private Provision of Public Services Group, Private Sector Advisory Services Department - is part of a larger effort in the department to identify ways of improving services to the poor through private participation in infrastructure. Preparation of the paper was supported by the Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility, a multidonor technical assistance facility aimed at helping developing countries improve the quality of their infrastructure through private sector involvement.

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