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Understanding the role of energy consumption in human development through the use of saturation phenomena


  • Marti­nez, Daniel M.
  • Ebenhack, Ben W.


A correlation is presented between the UN human development index and per capita energy consumption for 120 nations. A strong relationship between index values and energy consumption is observed for the majority of the world. Additionally, a distinct secondary trend emerges from the dataset, representing heavy energy exporters such as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and some Former Soviet Union nations, among others. The preliminary observation is made that these two trends closely resemble saturation curves, exhibited by a variety of natural phenomena. For the primary trend, three regions are isolated: a steep rise in human development relative to energy consumption for energy-poor nations; a moderate rise for transitioning nations; and essentially no rise in human development for energy-advantaged nations, consuming large amounts of modern energy. These correlations suggest that tremendous gains in human development are possible for the world's poorest, with small incremental access to energy.

Suggested Citation

  • Marti­nez, Daniel M. & Ebenhack, Ben W., 2008. "Understanding the role of energy consumption in human development through the use of saturation phenomena," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 1430-1435, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:36:y:2008:i:4:p:1430-1435

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jose Goldemberg, 2001. "Energy and Human Well Being," Human Development Occasional Papers (1992-2007) HDOCPA-2001-02, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
    2. Dias, Rubens A. & Mattos, Cristiano R. & P. Balestieri, Jose A., 2006. "The limits of human development and the use of energy and natural resources," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(9), pages 1026-1031, June.
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    1. Hanff, Elodie & Dabat, Marie-Hélène & Blin, Joël, 2011. "Are biofuels an efficient technology for generating sustainable development in oil-dependent African nations? A macroeconomic assessment of the opportunities and impacts in Burkina Faso," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 15(5), pages 2199-2209, June.
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    3. Mayer, Andreas & Haas, Willi & Wiedenhofer, Dominik, 2017. "How Countries' Resource Use History Matters for Human Well-being – An Investigation of Global Patterns in Cumulative Material Flows from 1950 to 2010," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 1-10.
    4. Schaffer, W.M., 2008. "Human population and carbon dioxide," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(7), pages 2761-2764, July.
    5. Ismet Ugursal, V., 2014. "Energy consumption, associated questions and some answers," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 783-792.
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    9. Radovanović, Mirjana & Filipović, Sanja & Pavlović, Dejan, 2017. "Energy security measurement – A sustainable approach," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 68(P2), pages 1020-1032.
    10. Hiranmoy Roy & Rajaiah Jayaraj & Anshunan Gupta, 2015. "Energy consumption and human development: global perspective," ECONOMICS AND POLICY OF ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2015(1), pages 111-131.
    11. Deichmann, Uwe & Meisner, Craig & Murray, Siobhan & Wheeler, David, 2011. "The economics of renewable energy expansion in rural Sub-Saharan Africa," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 215-227, January.
    12. González-Eguino, Mikel, 2015. "Energy poverty: An overview," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 377-385.
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    14. Steckel, Jan Christoph & Brecha, Robert J. & Jakob, Michael & Strefler, Jessica & Luderer, Gunnar, 2013. "Development without energy? Assessing future scenarios of energy consumption in developing countries," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 53-67.
    15. Serap Bedir & Vildan Merve Yilmaz, 2016. "CO2 emissions and human development in OECD countries: granger causality analysis with a panel data approach," Eurasian Economic Review, Springer;Eurasia Business and Economics Society, vol. 6(1), pages 97-110, April.
    16. Siddiqui, Md Zakaria & de Maere d'Aertrycke, Gauthier & Smeers, Yves, 2012. "Demand response in Indian electricity market," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 207-216.
    17. repec:gam:jeners:v:11:y:2018:i:4:p:849-:d:139689 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Daniel A. Sanchez-Loor & Manuel A. Zambrano-Monserrate, 2015. "Causality Analysis between Electricity Consumption, Real Gross Domestic Product, Foreign Direct Investment, Human Development and Remittances in Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico," International Journal of Energy Economics and Policy, Econjournals, vol. 5(3), pages 746-753.
    19. Gómez, Maria F. & Silveira, Semida, 2010. "Rural electrification of the Brazilian Amazon - Achievements and lessons," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(10), pages 6251-6260, October.
    20. repec:eee:ecolec:v:141:y:2017:i:c:p:43-52 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Måns Nilsson & Paul Lucas & Tetsuro Yoshida, 2013. "Towards an Integrated Framework for SDGs: Ultimate and Enabling Goals for the Case of Energy," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(10), pages 1-28, September.
    22. Wang, Qiang & Zhou, Kan, 2017. "A framework for evaluating global national energy security," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 188(C), pages 19-31.
    23. Ouedraogo, Nadia S., 2013. "Energy consumption and human development: Evidence from a panel cointegration and error correction model," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 28-41.
    24. Qiaosheng Wu & Svetlana Maslyuk & Valerie Clulow, 2010. "Energy Consumption Transition and Human Development," Monash Economics Working Papers 43-10, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    25. repec:eee:appene:v:212:y:2018:i:c:p:1282-1294 is not listed on IDEAS

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