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Are the energy poor also income poor? Energy poverty in rural and urban India

Energy poverty is a frequently used term among energy specialists, but unfortunately the concept is rather loosely defined. Several existing approaches measure energy poverty by defining an energy poverty line as the minimum quantity of physical energy needed to perform such basic tasks as cooking and lighting. This paper proposes an alternative measure that is based on energy demand. The energy poverty line is defined as the threshold point at which energy consumption begins to rise with increases in household income. This approach was applied to cross-sectional data from a comprehensive 2005 household survey representative of both urban and rural India. The findings suggest that in rural areas some 57 percent of households are energy poor, versus 22 percent that are income poor. For urban areas the energy poverty rate is 28 percent compared with 20 percent that are income poor. Policies to reduce energy poverty would include support for rural electrification, the promotion of more modern cooking fuels, and encouraging greater adoption of improved biomass stoves. A combination of these programs would play a significant role in reducing energy poverty in rural India.

 


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