Household Energy Access and Expenditure in Developing Countries: Evidence from India, 1987-2010

Energy for Sustainable Development, Forthcoming

35 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2016

See all articles by Meir Alkon

Meir Alkon

Harvard University

Harish S.P.

College of William & Mary

Johannes Urpelainen

Johns Hopkins SAIS

Date Written: August 15, 2016


Although most studies of energy poverty focus on whether or not households have access to modern fuels, expenditure is also an important issue, as households in developing countries spend a significant proportion of their total expenditures on energy. Using nationally representative household data from India, 1987-2010, this article describes and explains trends in household energy expenditure. While monthly household spending on energy has increased in many Indian states, this change is not driven by increased household affluence. Statistical analysis shows that when modern fuels (LPG for cooking, electricity for lighting and appliances) are available, households are willing and able to spend on energy. Indian households that have seen improved access to LPG and electricity have also seen much higher energy expenditures, whereas increased household incomes do not explain greater spending on household energy. For policymakers, the key lesson is that programs to improve access to modern fuels allow both wealthy and poor households to spend money on valuable energy services.

Keywords: energy access, energy poverty, sustainable development, India, survey analysis

Suggested Citation

Alkon, Meir and S.P., Harish and Urpelainen, Johannes, Household Energy Access and Expenditure in Developing Countries: Evidence from India, 1987-2010 (August 15, 2016). Energy for Sustainable Development, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Meir Alkon

Harvard University ( email )

MA 02138
United States

Harish S.P.

College of William & Mary ( email )

Government Dept, College of William & Mary
Post Office Box 8795
Williamsburg, VA 23186
United States

Johannes Urpelainen (Contact Author)

Johns Hopkins SAIS ( email )

1740 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036-1984
United States

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