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Examining The Relation between Quality of Life and Biophysical vs Economic Conditions

Updated: Oct 24, 2018

Jessica Lambert

Chief Information Officer

Next Generation Energy Initiative

Marcellus, NY


In a previous paper (Lambert et al. 2014) we examined the link between declining EROI and quality of life indicators for average citizens within a select group of societies and found that EROI is correlated with standard of living; suggesting that decreasing net available energy adversely impacts the standard of living of an average citizen. This work extends the analysis of this possible link to a larger group of countries.  As noted in our previous work, inadequate empirical data is a considerable ‘stumbling block’ to examining and understanding the link between a decline in the net energy available within a society and an average citizen’s standard of living and well being.  We employ our previous methodology using four separate estimated measures of energy availability: (1) EROI at a societal level, (2) energy use per capita, (3) multiple regression analyses and (4) LEI (the Lambert Energy Index), and multiple standard indicators of standard of living-quality of life (HDI, percent of children under weight, health expenditures, Gender Inequality Index, literacy rate and access to improved water) to examine the correlation between net energy availability and quality of life indicators.  Our findings suggest that these energy indices are highly correlated with standard of living within a wide variety of societies and that there is a saturation point where further increases in per capita energy availability (greater than 150 GJ) or EROI (above 20:1) are not associated with further improvements to society.  

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