Access to energy and electricity are fundamental to meeting basic human needs, and they also spur growth in income and improvements in wellbeing. IIASA researchers are studying how access to energy supply affects people’s lives and livelihoods, and how to provide energy services equitably.

How much energy do people need for a basic quality of life? How does energy access affect income? Answering these questions is essential for understanding the role of energy in development, and in building effective energy policies that will provide fair access to energy services around the world.

Previous studies have shown that people who have access to electricity tend to earn more money than people without.  However few studies have explored the cause and effect relationships between energy and income. This project examines both how energy is tied to quality of life, and also explores the links between energy access and livelihoods in developing countries. It also looks closely at the actual conditions in which people consume energy. For example, there is a big difference between having electricity for 3 hours a day compared to 16 or 24 hours. 

Project researchers are using economic models including input-output analysis, econometric analysis, and material flow analysis to examine the many economic factors that tie into these questions.


Researchers found that providing electricity access increases the chance of household-based businesses being established in India. Moreover, increasing hours of electricity supply have an increasing effect on the incomes of household enterprises.