Health, Well-Being and Energy Poverty in Europe: A Comparative Study of 32 European Countries

Harriet Thomson, Carolyn Snell, Stefan Bouzarovski

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Despite growing pan-European interest in and awareness of the wide-ranging health and well-being impacts of energy poverty—which is characterised by an inability to secure adequate levels of energy services in the home—the knowledge base is largely British-centric and dominated by single-country studies. In response, this paper investigates the relationship between energy poverty, health and well-being across 32 European countries, using 2012 data from the European Quality of Life Survey. We find an uneven concentration of energy poverty, poor health, and poor well-being across Europe, with Eastern and Central Europe worst affected. At the intersection of energy poverty and health, there is a higher incidence of poor health (both physical and mental) amongst the energy poor populations of most countries, compared to non-energy poor households. Interestingly, we find the largest disparities in health and well-being levels between energy poor and non-energy poor households occur within relatively equal societies, such as Sweden and Slovenia. As well as the unique challenges brought about by rapidly changing energy landscapes in these countries, we also suggest the relative deprivation theory and processes of social comparison hold some value in explaining these findings.
Original languageEnglish
Article number584
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2017


  • Energy poverty
  • Fuel poverty
  • Relative deprivation
  • Health inequalities
  • Well-being

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Urban Institute


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