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A meta-analysis investigation of the direction of the energy-GDP causal relationship: implications for the growth-degrowth dialogue

Kalimeris, Panos, Richardson, Clive, Bithas, Kostas
Journal of cleaner production 2014 v.67 pp. 1-13
economic development, energy, energy resources, meta-analysis
The complex relation between energy use and the economic process has long attracted attention. Issues such as the scarcity of energy resources, energy theory of value, degrowth and a-growth approaches are closely related to the relationship between energy and development. The present study traces the implications of the Energy-GDP causality dialogue for the context of the growth-degrowth debate, where the energy-development link plays a decisive role. In that context, the present research investigates the possible existence of a fundamental “macro” direction of causality between energy use and economic growth that is not influenced by study-specific characteristics and events. Towards this objective, we perform a meta-analysis that takes into account 158 studies on causality between energy and GDP, covering the period 1978–2011. This is the first time, to our knowledge, that meta-analysis has been applied to investigate the direction of the energy and GDP causal relationship. The meta-analysis results neither support the existence of a fundamental “macro” direction, nor the so-called “neutrality hypothesis (E ≠ GDP)” in the causal relationship between energy consumption and economic growth.