Quantifying the impacts of clean cooking transitions on future health-age trajectories in South Africa

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    Reliance on highly polluting cooking technologies poses a significant risk for human health. This study quantifies and compares the impact of different clean cooking access scenarios on future health-age trajectories among population subgroups in South Africa. Using microdata from five waves of the South African National Income Dynamics Study, we develop a dynamic microsimulation model and a composite metric of individual health status that is used to explore how health status changes under alternative access scenarios for the period 2010-2030. We find that there are clear gains of using clean cooking technologies for population health, and that electrification alone does not improve health status, if it is not accompanied by an increase in the use of clean cooking technologies in homes. Our results imply that achieving universal access to clean cooking in South Africa can by itself improve average population health by almost 4% by 2030 compared to a scenario without clean cooking technologies, with the health of individuals of genders and races with the poorest health and well-being endowments improving the most. Thus, clean cooking can contribute to narrowing existing inequalities by improving health for the most vulnerable population groups that disproportionately depend on polluting cooking technologies.