Issue Brief

Energy and Population

Sep 24, 2004 | Joel Darmstadter

How significantly does the size and growth of world population affect the demand for energy?

Probably less than one might think, writes RFF senior fellow Joel Darmstadter in Energy and Population, a new Issue Brief.

The complex intertwining of the number of people and the amount of energy they consume is not consistent throughout history or from country to country.

The United States, for example, has decreased its energy usage compared with its gross domestic product since the 1920s and is seeing an increasing decoupling of these two figures. China, on the other hand, in recent years has decreased its population rate and dramatically increased its rate of energy use.

Darmstadter has studied energy resources for nearly four decades, and his analysis of this topic provides insights on the broad array of factors that need to be taken in account when formulating energy policy.

This article first appeared in Encyclopedia of Population, edited by Paul Demeny and Geoffrey McNicoll. The two-volume set includes more than 300 entries by hundreds of authors from around the world with a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds, including economics, literature, philosophy, public health, and sociology (Macmillan Reference USA, 2003).