«A Dissertation Presented in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Doctor of Philosophy Approved November 2014 by the Graduate ...»
In addition, the study of Leonard, Deane, and Gutmann (2011) indicates that the existence of young household members would encourage a head of farming household to invest more in farming to meet the increasing demand for food consumption and household expenditure in the future. It is important to recognize that this result does not mean that farming households always try to intensify farming no matter what options are available. This should be understood in the framework of livelihood diversification. For instance, when a household decides to continue and intensify farming, this could imply that farming is a more attractive livelihood option than any other choices because it
better options than farming, or if the conditions for farming degrade, a household would consider other available options rather than remain with farming. I expect that one of the most attractive options in the context of a socioeconomically developing society, like Chitwan, would be changing the modes of production, from farming to non-farming.
These considerations illustrate that not only migration, but also the socioeconomic context of a person would affect agricultural transition. Another study focusing on farming between 1978 and 1997 in the context of the U.S. shows that the entry and exit of young farmers vary by economic conditions of a given region (Gale 2003). The result implies that, even if a household wants or is forced to diversify and secure their livelihood, they might have to continue or intensify farming because that is the only and the best available option they have.
To summarize, rural farming households might tend to change the modes of production, from farming to non-farming: 1) when migration experience in a developed society provided new thoughts and ideas for future livelihoods of migrants’ households; 2) when enough resources are accumulated through financial remittances from migration; 3) there is a young and educated member in a household; 4) when farming does not guarantee the best profits in origin communities, and there are sufficient number of nonfarm opportunities requiring a certain level of working experience and education.
Integrating all these considerations, the second set of hypotheses is that migration at the household level would increase the likelihood of the changes in the mode of production out of farming.
The theory of common property is used to derive the negative impact of agricultural intensification on environment. However, some studies show that collective power at the community level could protect this tragedy (Katz 2000; Ostrom, Burger, Field, Norgaard, and Policansky 1999; Gibson and Koontz 1998). Pretty and Ward (2001) emphasize social capital when it comes to the management of natural resources. In general, when people share common interests and there are proper routes and conditions to integrate those interests, strong social capital would be created and work effectively for the protection of the environment. The transition from farming to non-farming caused by outmigration, however, might weaken social capital. There is a high chance that the migration-induced transition out of farming would weaken connectedness, upon which social capital is based, since people do not share the same interests anymore when it comes to the environment.
Energy Transition as a Response to Migration. Besides agricultural transition, energy transition is also an important transition that is coupled with short- and long-term environmental consequences. Under the context of a socioeconomically developing region, like Chitwan, the main energy source of rural households is very likely to convert from traditional ones, such as fuel wood and sawdust, to modern ones, such as gas and electricity, which indicates the rise in energy demand in the coming years (IEA 2013).
There are a variety of factors affecting energy transition at different levels.
Previous studies have shown that the main causes of this transition are income (Pachauri and Jiang 2008; Jiang and O’Neill 2004). Thus, in the setting of a high volume of migration, there is a high chance that financial remittances from migration would
from out-migration would accelerate the transition as well since energy transition is also a matter of accepting new ideas. The study of Masera et al. (2000) in the setting of Jaracuaro, Mexico, points out that rural households might keep using traditional energy sources even though they are capable of purchasing modern energy sources. The main reason is that traditional energy sources are considered to be better and more appropriate than modern ones for cooking traditional meals and parties. This fact implies that energy transition is not only a matter of financial status of a household, but also a matter of how people perceive and accept a new technology. In other words, cultural barriers or lack of familiarity to modern techniques could delay the transition. And migration experience could be a good catalyst for the transition since there is a high chance that migrants are more likely to be exposed to modern energy sources and the idea of using them than nonmigrants during migration. Therefore, it is likely that having migrants in a household would accelerate the transition.
However, more questions on the transition process remain regarding whether or not 1) a household would completely abandon traditional energy sources and only accept modern ones; 2) a household would use both with different purposes at the same time.
The first question is related to fuel switching, and the second question is linked with fuel stacking (Heltberg 2004). Fuel switching is a complete transition from one to another energy source while fuel stacking is adding additional energy sources to traditional ones.
The view focusing on complete transition is summarized as the “energy ladder model” (Smith 1987; Hosier and Dowd 1987). This model has been criticized mainly for ignoring the fact that rural households in developing countries are using multiple energy sources
Horst and Hovorka 2008). This new perspective is summarized as the “multiple fuel model” (Masera et al. 2000). The reason for using multiple energy sources might be
cultural as described before, but another reason could be found at the neighborhood level:
accessibility to modern energy sources and quality of the supply (Pachauri and Jiang 2008). In most rural areas in developing countries, including Chitwan, Nepal, the access to modern energy sources, such as electricity, is still limited. Also the supply of it is very unstable; for instance, the sudden blackout of electricity is quite common in Chitwan. In fact, the supply of electricity in Chitwan has been affected significantly by severe droughts since the main power generation of electricity has been by hydropower plants which rely on the condition of river flows. In addition to droughts, some forest conservationists also argue that the low river levels are due to the forest depletion in recent years (Setopati 2014). Due to this reason, even if a house is electrified, the household might keep using traditional energy sources to prepare for frequent disconnections.
It is important to recognize that the two perspectives, energy ladder and multiple fuel models, might not be two completely different arguments. Based on the previous research, it seems that using multiple energy sources is one of the coping strategies as a buffer due to the instability of the supply of modern energy sources in a given region.
Therefore, as the infrastructure of the region improves, in a positive case of a scenario, the supply will be stabilized and most households would eventually transition from traditional ones to modern ones. Further, experience during migration would accelerate this trend. This indicates that the level of energy transition could be a reasonable
strategy, it is also possible to hypothesize the opposite direction of the transition which has not been studied well: from modern ones to traditional ones.
In this dissertation, I will focus on the transition from traditional energy sources to modern ones. These considerations lead us to the third set of hypotheses that household capitals and migration would increase the likelihood of energy transition.
Environmental Consequences of Energy Transition. The 2014 report by the United Nations on water and energy sends us a few important messages that increasing energy demand, especially from countries under rapid socioeconomic development, in the coming years will be at serious risk without proper management and regulations at the national and global level (WWAP 2014). According to the report, this growing demand also means significant environmental impacts on water specifically in those countries since most power generation is water-intensive. In sum, the report shows the growing concern over the long-term environmental impacts of livelihood transitions accompanied by urbanization in the setting of developing countries with poverty. Nepal is not an exception. According to the Nepal Living Standards Survey 2003/04, about 37% of the all households in Nepal had access to electricity. This is a huge increase from 14% in 1995 though it is still at a very low level compared to other countries.
In addition, major sources to generate modern energy, especially electricity, are nuclear, coal, and natural gas and the energy demand will continue to rise, not decrease, in the future (IEA 2013). There are recyclable resources available, such as wave, geothermal, wind, tide, and solar power, but it is difficult for developing countries to adapt those new technologies due to the low effectiveness of them at the current stage of
So we might not be depleting natural sources surrounding us, such as fuel wood, but at least it is still happening somewhere else. In fact, even most developed countries still use hydropower plants, thermal-based plants, and nuclear power plants to generate power (IEA 2013). And many developing countries have already built or are planning to build them as well in the near future. Thus, until the technologies for alternative energy sources are available for less developed countries, a fast energy transition in those countries might not be beneficial at the global level. In sum, to catch up with the rising demand for modern energy, it is still unavoidable to deplete natural resources at a faster rate than ever in most developing countries. This does not mean that rural households in developing countries should not alter the main energy source, however. I argue that it is necessary to fully understand the transition at the household level as a first step towards the creation of “better” alternative ways of energy generation in the near future.
Increasing demand for energy is not just a matter of rural households with high socioeconomic status: it is also related to household fission and the spread of the nuclear family (Ruggles 2007). In many countries, the number of households is increasing, but average household size is decreasing (Knight and Rosa 2012; Lui, Daily, Ehrlich, and Luck 2003). This is related to the higher level of consumption since, at the aggregate level, for example, two households with a smaller average size consume more resources than a single household with a larger household size (Knight and Rosa 2012; Entwisle, Walsh, and Rindfuss 2005). In addition, the creation of a new household independent from their parents is likely to use more natural resources, especially woods, for housing.
In the context of Chitwan, Nepal, remittances from migrants enable a household to build
considered to be a main consumption goal, and building a modern house is thought to be one of the favorite choices (Connell and Conway 2000). This has been affecting the condition of the forest in Chitwan since new modern houses require more wood for window frames, doors, and so on. This increasing demand for wood has often been satisfied with an illegal supply from the forests surrounding the region.
Though there is a concern over the rise in energy demand in the future and its impacts on water quality at the aggregate level, some studies argue that energy transition from traditional ones to modern ones is beneficial at the household and neighborhood levels. It is beneficial at the household level in that burning traditional energy sources, such as wood or coal, for cooking or heating would deteriorate indoor air quality by releasing harmful particles in the air which would affect the health of the residents (Spalding-Fecher 2005; Heltberg 2004). Moreover, the transition would reduce the time for collecting traditional energy sources, so it would earn extra time for women and children to invest in other activities. For young children, having electricity could also make them free from fuel wood collection activity so that they can invest more time in studying. Thus, energy transition could open the first, but important, step towards the empowerment of women and children in developing countries. At the neighborhood level, energy transition could be beneficial in that it would lower the chance of deforestation in a region by reducing the dependency of households on the surrounding natural resources (Heltberg 2004).
Having discussed the setting, framework, and theoretical considerations, I derived three main hypotheses of my research. I now divide those three broad hypotheses into several detailed sub-hypotheses, which could be tested empirically by using the Chitwan Valley Family Study (CVFS). The main conceptual model is shown in Figure 1.
I describe them in two sections that correspond with the three areas of inquiry in this proposal: the effects of household capitals and migration on the changes in agricultural activities, in the modes of production, and in the main energy source.