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Household Energy Use and Poverty

For a great number of contemporary people, it is hard to imagine living in a house with no energy. Energy use is needed to lighten our houses, prepare food, secure our access to the Internet, and keep us warm. However, in many developing countries, as well as among disadvantaged populations of the industrial states, the lack or absence of energy for household use is an everyday reality.

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Significance of the Study

Research in the problems of poverty and household energy use is a serious necessity for the modern international community. Studying these problems thoroughly will help to work out the ways to influence the situation so that it can be possible to give disadvantaged families access to cheap and clean household energy. Such issues as the gender aspect of energy poverty, the patterns of energy use in poor families, the availability of household energy, the living standards, the impact of urbanization on energy use, the available technologies of energy production for the poor, and many others are yet to be examined.

Research Question

The researcher has established the link between household energy use and poverty as a research question. To facilitate the work on the research, the researcher has separated it into the following precise sub-questions:

  1. What countries and populations are affected by poverty?
  2. What current problems related to household energy use do these people face?
  3. What sources of energy are available to the poor?
  4. What patterns of household energy use exist among the poor and how does urbanization impact these patterns?
  5. How are female poverty and household energy use connected?
  6. What strategies can be employed to make clean and cheap energy available to the poor?
  7. What are the differences in the household energy consumption among the populations of the developing countries and the disadvantaged families of the industrial countries?

Research Hypotheses

Before starting the work on the research, the author has developed two hypotheses that will be tested. The hypotheses will be either supported by evidence or proven irrelevant in the course of the research. The first hypothesis is generalizing in nature: improving the energy consumption of the poor will require a complete change of their lifestyle since the patterns of energy use and the way of living are strongly connected.

In this case, the independent variable is the patterns of energy use and the dependent one is the lifestyles of the poor. According to the second hypothesis, for the disadvantaged people, receiving access to energy for household purposes is a primary need compared to receiving energy for other purposes. In this case, the access to energy will be an independent variable while the life quality of the poor will be the dependent one.

The researcher has selected resource mobilization theory among social movement theories. As the researcher is convinced, a professionally organized group can mobilize financial resources, supporting individuals capable of action, the awareness of the media resources, support of powerful politicians, and work out a workable solution to initiate social change or, in this case, to find ways of providing the poor with household energy. The author also believes that when facing global problems, humans can act like rational beings, weigh the advantages and disadvantages of their actions on a cost and benefit scale, and build an effective organizational structure to mobilize and use the available resources in such a way as to ensure the achievement of the goal.

Literature Review

To fulfill the research tasks, the author has selected relevant literature on the topics of poverty and energy, female poverty and energy consumption, household energy use and poverty, and the possible solutions for the problem.

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The paper by the authorship of Shonali Pachauri and Daniel Spreng demonstrates how poverty is connected with energy access. The authors used the data from the Department of Statistics of India related to the household energy consumption of the country’s population. The paper proposes several approaches to calculate energy poverty, estimates basic power needs, measures the access of Indians to various types of energy, and establish the lack of access to energy as a measure of poverty (Pachauri and Spreng 1-20).

The Global Energy Assessment is a project, which has united more than 300 researchers from different countries to perform a consistent, comprehensive, scientifically valid analysis of the current situation in global energy consumption. Chapter 2 of this assessment is focused on the relationship between poverty and limited access to energy. The authors demonstrate that poverty and lack of adequate energy services form an endless circle: poor families, unable to afford modern energy services, spend money on expensive and inconvenient sources of energy, and become even poorer (Karekezi et al. 153-190).

The discussion paper prepared by Joy Clancy, Margaret Skutsch, and Simon Batchelor focuses on the gender aspect of the energy – poverty relationship. The authors examine the current global energy policy, analyze the way, in which families address energy problems, reflect on the implications of biomass fuel consumption for women, explain how women cope with the lack of energy and study the opportunities for improving the situation (Clansy, Skutch, and Batchelor 1-24).

The second chapter of the UNO-sponsored World Energy Assessment presents the social issues regarding energy consumption. The paper discusses the problems of poverty, female poverty, availability of natural resources to various populations, urbanization, the use of household devices, demographic problems about energy consumption. The chapter also highlights the difference between energy poverty in industrial and developing countries (Reddy 39-60).

The article by Tsvetan Tsvetanov and Kathleen Segerson presents an interesting research question: if people are given a choice, will they select the most energy-efficient option? Patterns of behavior are an important part of energy consumption; therefore, this issue should be taken into consideration while working out solutions for providing the poor with access to household energy (Tsvetanov and Segerson 233-271).

Research Method

To ensure the achievement of research goals, the author has selected a literature review as the research method. A literature review will allow summarizing the information about the situation with household energy consumption in developing countries and among the poor populations in industrialized countries, as well as it will help to understand the causes of the problem and evaluate opinions on possible solutions.

The search will be performed with the use of such keywords and expressions as “energy poverty,” “household energy use/consumption,” “household energy use/consumption and poverty,” “female poverty and energy use,” “gender issues and energy use,” “energy consumption in developing countries,” “energy sources in developing countries,” and “biomass fuel and poverty.”

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The author has selected a highly important topic. Research in this direction is needed nowadays. A wise selection of research questions and methods allows us to make a valuable contribution to the body of literature on this problem.

Works Cited

Clancy, Joy S., Margaret Skutsch, and Simon Batchelor 2002, The Gender – Energy – Poverty Nexus. Web.

Karekezi, Stephen, Susan McDade, Brenda Boardman, and John Kimani. “Energy, Poverty, and Development.” Global Energy Assessment Toward a Sustainable Future. Ed. GEA Writing Team. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2012. 153-190. Print.

Pachauri, Shonali, and Daniel Spreng 2003, Energy use and energy access about poverty. Web.

Reddy, Amulya K.N. “Energy and Social Issues.” World Energy Assessment: Energy and the Challenge of Sustainability. Ed. Communications Development Incorporated. New York City, New York: United Nations Development Programme, 200. 39-60.

Tsvetanov, Tsvetan, and Kathleen Segerson. “The Welfare Effects of Energy Efficiency Standards When Choice Sets Matter.” Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists 1.1/2 (2014): 233-271. Print.

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