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close this bookEnergy after Rio - Prospects and Challenges - Executive Summary (UNDP, 1997, 38 p.)
close this folder2. Energy and Major Global Issues
close this folder2.1 Energy and Social Issues
View the document2.1.1 Poverty
View the document2.1.2 Gender Disparity
View the document2.1.3 Population
View the document2.1.4 Undernutrition and Food

2.1.3 Population

The conventional view is that population determines energy use as an external influence, i.e., exogenously. There is another view that the pattern of energy use influences population growth, through its effect on the desired number of births in a family and the relative benefits of fertility. The implication of this dimension of the energy-population nexus is that one important challenge for the energy system is to accelerate the demographic transition in which the population moves from an old balance of high mortality and high fertility to a new balance of low mortality and low fertility. This acceleration requires a dramatic reduction in fertility to stabilise the global population as quickly as possible, and at as low a level as possible.

women and children’s time spent in fuel and water collection represents a high social and economic cost

The reduction of fertility depends upon crucial developmental tasks such as increased life expectancy, improvement of the living environment (drinking water, sanitation, housing, etc.), education of women, diversion of children from household-survival tasks and employment to schooling, etc. Almost every one of these socio-economic preconditions for smaller family size and fertility decline depends upon energy-utilising technologies. But current patterns of energy use in developing countries do not reflect emphasis on the provision of safe and sufficient supplies of drinking water, the maintenance of a clean and healthy environment, the reduction of the drudgery of household chores traditionally performed by women, the relief from household-survival tasks carried out by children and the establishment of income-generating industries in rural areas.

Thus, current patterns of energy use do not emphasise the type of energy-utilising technologies necessary to satisfy the socio-economic preconditions for fertility decline.