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Energy Affordability and Subjective Well-Being: Evidence for European Countries

Heinz Welsch and Philipp Biermann

Year: 2017
Volume: Volume 38
Number: Number 3
DOI: 10.5547/01956574.38.3.hwel
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Abstract:
This paper uses data on the life satisfaction of more than 100,000 individuals in 21 European countries from 2002 to 2011, to study the relationship between subjective well-being and the affordability for households of electricity, heating oil and natural gas. We find that energy prices have statistically and economically significant effects on subjective well-being. The effect sizes are smaller than but comparable to the effects of important personal factors of well-being. Effects above average are found in individuals from the lowest income quartile. In addition, effects are strongest at times when required energy expenditures can be expected to be high. The empirical results are consistent with the prediction that greater fuel poverty implies a greater effect of energy prices on well-being.



A Multidimensional Approach to Measuring Fuel Poverty

Dorothee Charlier and Berangere Legendre

Year: 2019
Volume: Volume 40
Number: Number 2
DOI: 10.5547/01956574.40.2.bleg
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Abstract:
In this study we suggest that a more careful and systematic understanding of fuel poverty can be developed through a multidimensional approach to the relationship between monetary poverty, residential energy efficiency, and heating restriction. Our objective is to provide new ways to better identify those who suffer the most from fuel poverty to optimize policy. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to measure poverty in three steps following Sen (1979): (i) combining poverty characteristics into an aggregate measure involving a fuel poverty index (FPI), (ii) identification and comparison of poor people according to existing and new definitions and (iii) testing the robustness of the fuel poverty composite indicator. Our results show that the usual measures reveal a gap that does not consider all the dimensions of fuel poverty, excluding those who are at or above a certain threshold, but who are nevertheless vulnerable.



From Residential Energy Demand to Fuel Poverty: Income-induced Non-linearities in the Reactions of Households to Energy Price Fluctuations

Dorothee Charlier and Sondes Kahouli

Year: 2019
Volume: Volume 40
Number: Number 2
DOI: 10.5547/01956574.40.2.dcha
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Abstract:
The residential energy demand is growing steadily and the trend is expected to continue in the near future. At the same time, under the impulse of economic crises and environmental and energy policies, many households have experienced reductions in real income and higher energy prices. In the residential sector, the number of fuel-poor households is thus expected to rise. A better understanding of the determinants of residential energy demand, in particular of the role of income and the sensitivity of households to changes in energy prices, is crucial in the context of recurrent debates on energy efficiency and fuel poverty. We propose a panel threshold regression (PTR) model to empirically test the sensitivity of French households to energy price fluctuations - as measured by the elasticity of residential heating energy prices - and to analyze the overlap between their income and fuel poverty profiles. The PTR model allows to test for the non-linear effect of income on the reactions of households to fluctuations in energy prices. Thus, it can identify specific regimes differing by their level of estimated price elasticities. Each regime represents an elasticity-homogeneous group of households. The number of these regimes is determined based on an endogenously PTR-fixed income threshold. Thereafter, we analyze the composition of the regimes (i.e. groups) to locate the dominant proportion of fuel-poor households and analyse their monetary poverty characteristics. Results show that, depending on the income level, we can identify two groups of households that react differently to residential energy price fluctuations and that fuel-poor households belong mostly to the group of households with the highest elasticity. By extension, results also show that income poverty does not necessarily mean fuel poverty. In terms of public policy, we suggest focusing on income heterogeneity by considering different groups of households separately when defining energy efficiency measures. We also suggest paying particular attention to targeting fuel-poor households by examining the overlap between fuel and income poverty.



Evaluating the Impact of Energy Poverty in a Multidimensional Setting

Erica Delugas and Rinaldo Brau

Year: 2021
Volume: Volume 42
Number: Number 1
DOI: 10.5547/01956574.42.1.edel
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Abstract:
We study the relationship between energy poverty and subjective well-being by combining objective and subjective indicators in a multidimensional energy poverty index (MEPI). Using the Italian release of the European Survey on Income and Living Conditions, we first assess the identification power of this index vis-à-vis standard 'affordability' indicators. Subsequently, we use the MEPI in a simultaneous bivariate ordered probit model accounting for the endogeneity between subjective well-being and energy poverty arising from considering subjective indicators. We find a clear additional role by the subjective indicator in the identification of the energy-poor and a relatively low overlapping degree between MEPI and affordability measures. Likewise, econometric estimations detect sizeable and statistically significant negative effects on life satisfaction as the severity level of the MEPI rises. In contrast, virtually no effects are found with affordability indicators. The impact is substantially smaller when the MEPI only considers the subset of objective indicators.





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