The Energy Paradox: Energy Use and Happiness


Okulicz-Kozaryn A, Altman M. The Energy Paradox: Energy Use and Happiness. ARIQ. 2019.
energyparadox.pdf1.25 MB


It is widely claimed that there is a substantial tradeoff between energy preservation and human wellbeing. We are reluctant to cut energy consumption for fear of decline in our happiness. Despite technological advances, Earth’s per capita energy use continues to grow. The environmental consequences are well known: resource depletion, pollution, and global warming. Here we studied the relationship between energy consumption and happiness across four decades, and multiple levels of geography. Surprisingly, we found that received wisdom is false–for counties, states and nations, energy consumption is neither necessary for wellbeing, nor linked directly to it. The relation between energy use and happiness is very similar to the relation between economic growth and happiness, i.e., the Easterlin Paradox.

Last updated on 04/04/2019