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Energy, EROI and quality of life


  • Lambert, Jessica G.
  • Hall, Charles A.S.
  • Balogh, Stephen
  • Gupta, Ajay
  • Arnold, Michelle


The near- and long-term societal effects of declining EROI are uncertain, but probably adverse. A major obstacle to examining social implications of declining EROI is that we do not have adequate empirical understanding of how EROI is linked, directly or indirectly, to an average citizen′s ability to achieve well-being. To evaluate the possible linkages between societal well-being and net energy availability, we compare these preliminary estimates of energy availability: (1) EROI at a societal level, (2) energy use per capita, (3) multiple regression analyses and (4) a new composite energy index (Lambert Energy Index), to select indicators of quality of life (HDI, percent children under weight, health expenditures, Gender Inequality Index, literacy rate and access to improved water). Our results suggest that energy indices are highly correlated with a higher standard of living. We also find a saturation point at which increases in per capita energy availability (greater than 150GJ) or EROI (above 20:1) are not associated with further improvement to society.

Suggested Citation

  • Lambert, Jessica G. & Hall, Charles A.S. & Balogh, Stephen & Gupta, Ajay & Arnold, Michelle, 2014. "Energy, EROI and quality of life," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 153-167.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:64:y:2014:i:c:p:153-167
    DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2013.07.001

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Charles A. S. Hall & Stephen Balogh & David J.R. Murphy, 2009. "What is the Minimum EROI that a Sustainable Society Must Have?," Energies, MDPI, vol. 2(1), pages 1-23, January.
    2. Robert U. Ayres & Benjamin Warr, 2009. "The Economic Growth Engine," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 13324.
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    6. Yan Hu & Lianyong Feng & Charles C.S. Hall & Dong Tian, 2011. "Analysis of the Energy Return on Investment (EROI) of the Huge Daqing Oil Field in China," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 3(12), pages 1-16, November.
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    13. Charles A.S. Hall & Bruce E. Dale & David Pimentel, 2011. "Seeking to Understand the Reasons for Different Energy Return on Investment (EROI) Estimates for Biofuels," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 3(12), pages 1-20, December.
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