Population and Environment

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 365–378

Household dynamics and fuelwood consumption in developing countries: a cross-national analysis

Research Brief

DOI: 10.1007/s11111-011-0151-3

Cite this article as:
Knight, K.W. & Rosa, E.A. Popul Environ (2012) 33: 365. doi:10.1007/s11111-011-0151-3


Previous research has suggested a link between household dynamics (i.e., average household size and number of households) and environmental impacts at the national level. Building on this work, we empirically test the relationship between household dynamics and fuelwood consumption, which has been implicated in anthropogenic threats to biodiversity. We focus our analysis on developing countries (where fuelwood is an important energy source). Our results show that nations with smaller average households consume more fuelwood per capita. This finding indicates that the household economies of scale are, indeed, associated with the consumption of fuelwood. In addition, we found that number of households is a better predictor of total fuelwood consumption than average household size suggesting a greater relative contribution to consumption levels. Thus, insofar as declining average household sizes result in increased number of households and higher per capita consumption, this trend may be a signal of serious threats to biodiversity and resource conservation. We also found further support for the “energy ladder” hypothesis that economic development reduces demand for traditional fuels.


Households Fuelwood Ecological footprint STIRPAT 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA

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