Background: Energy consumption is necessary for human well-being, yet the growth of energy consumption also contributes to climate change and a range of negative externalities. Thus, a key sustainability challenge is to efficiently use energy consumption to promote human well-being. This manuscript contributes to the growing literature on the ecological intensity of well-being (EIWB) by modeling the relationship between democratic institutions and the energy intensity of well-being. Methods: We use international data to understand how democratic institutions—understood as a combination of elected legislature, elected executives, and democratic competition—impact the energy intensity of well-being. The energy intensity of well-being is an adjusted ratio of energy consumption and life expectancy. We combine random- intercept mixed-effect models with entropy balancing constraints to create covariate balance between democracies and non-democracies. Results: Contrary to our expectations, we find that consistently null results suggesting that democracies do not leverage their energy consumption to improve well-being more effectively than other systems of government. Democracy and its subcomponents do not appear to improve, or reduce, the energy intensity of well-being. Conclusions: Democracy does not appear to improve sustainability, operationalized as the energy intensity of well-being. On the other hand, democracies do not appear to do worse than
Energy, Sustainability and Society – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 1, 2017
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