Utility Services Database 2016 Ed1

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In 2016 electricity access is widespread, 84% of households having a connection to a grid. With 70% having piped access water is less widely available, but not all of these are direct into homes, some are connections to an outside tap, but still count as household connections. Gas is very widely distributed in cylinders, but piped gas is only available in around 90 countries and 25% of
households are connected.

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Electrification, Gasification, Piped Water % Penetration & Numbers of Households – a Utility Services Database

A Large Opportunity for Energy and Environmental Services ~ Historical 1900 to 2015, Forecast 2016 to 2050

In 2016 electricity access is widespread, 84% of households having a connection to a grid. With 70% having piped access water is less widely available, but not all of these are direct into homes, some are connections to an outside tap, but still count as household connections. Gas is very widely distributed in cylinders, but piped gas is only available in around 90 countries and 25% of
households are connected.

Over the next 35 years the market opportunity presented by the increased numbers of households consuming electricity and gas will be enormous. Today’s 1.6 billion electrified households will double with an additional 800 million by 2050; the 1.4 billion with piped water will expand by approximately 400 million with more advanced piping will be installed in many, and the ½ billion households with a piped gas connection will expand by 365 million. Some trends are hidden. Many population will grow, others have already stated a decline. In the 10 countries with the highest declines in population threatening their economic future the combined loss will be 50 million people. But because households are becoming smaller they will gain 25 million electrical connections and with increased gasification and 175 million gas consumers.

Asia is the leader today, with 48.2% of new electricity connections, but this will drop to 35.7% by 2035, while Sub-Saharan Africa will double in share from 13.1% to 27.7%. All this is mapped out in these databases, the past, present and future. These databases quantify the current market and where it is, how large it will be in the future and where it will be.

The database contains 13 spreadsheets with data and charts.

  • Demographic data from 1900 to 2015, and forecast to 2050, for 214 countries, with regional sub-totals.
    1. Population
    2. Household size
    3. Number of households
  • Electrification from 1900 to 2015, and forecast to 2050, for 214 countries, with regional sub-totals.
    4. % of households with an electricity connection
    5. Numbers of households with an electricity connection
    6. The Electrification Wheel; a schematic of the levels at which consumers enter the electricity market
  • Gas from 1900 to 2015, and forecast to 2050, for 214 countries, with regional sub-totals.
    7. % of households with a piped gas supply
    8. Numbers of households with a piped gas supply
    9. Development of household usage of city (manufactured) piped gas, natural piped gas and LPG cylinder from 1900 to 2015.
    10. Gas type by year of launch for every gas consuming country.
  • Piped water from 1990 to 2016 for 214 countries, with regional sub-totals.
    11. % of households with a piped water supply
    12. Numbers of households with a piped water supply
    13. Comparison of the historical global development of the three utility services; electricity, piped gas and piped water supply


These databases cover the period 1900 to 2015, together with forecasts to 2050, providing the total numbers of households, and those with access to electricity, piped gas and piped water annually in every country over this timescale. These databases are derived from a global database of households, by applying rates of electrification, gasification and water installation. We have constructed them with four sets of data in stages. Household counts are not always readily available and some countries do not publish them so we have built a database of households, through the following stages.

  1. Population counts
  2. Average household sizes
  3. Numbers of households
  4. % electrification (i.e. % of households connected to an electricity supply, grid or isolated system)
  5. % with connection with piped gas
  6. % with connection to a piped water supply
  7. Numbers of electrified households
  8. Numbers of households with piped gas
  9. Numbers of households with piped water supply

The household database

The UN and World Bank publish country population data from 1960 to 2010. Several sources publish population figures for each country in ten year intervals, 1900, 1910, 1920 etc. up to the present day. The UN publishes projections from the present year up to 2050. We have taken the ten year figures and assumed linear growth between them to create an annual database from 1900 to 2050. It is important to use at least ten year figures because wars and natural disasters can interrupt the normal progression of the population. In the forecasts it is additionally important because some countries show an increase for the next one or two decades and then a decline up to 2050 and these patterns can have a significant effect.

  1. Average households size
  2. Numbers of households

Household size is not an easily available statistic. Today some countries, but not all, provide it together with numbers of households. Some countries publish these official figures for several ten year intervals and a very few provide detailed historical data, such as the United States.

Where published household numbers are available we have used them but they rarely cover the long period under review. There are various individual, national and regional sources of data on the numbers of households, often snapshots of one country for one year. There are regional reports for short periods, and one UN report published in 2005 of household estimates at five year intervals from 1985 to 2030. There is no single source of such data for all countries over a prolonged period of time. The author of this database was involved in the first counts of households in several Asian countries, when no household data was previously available. These involved either a physical count of all households in small countries, such as in Singapore, or estimation using household survey data gathered from large scale random probability sample surveys, of households using area sampling techniques. In this report we have applied the same methodology for universe estimates as used in the early Asian sampling calculations. We have established household sizes and then calculated numbers of households by dividing the population total by household size.

We have assembled our database of household sizes from many sources. We have over 400 reports in our files some back to the 19th and 20th centuries. Academic and sociological papers have been particularly useful for the early years. Additionally we have accessed reports and databases on the internet with isolated figures. The range of sources is very wide; census reports and statistical papers, demographic and fertility studies, industrial market estimates, academic sociological papers and scholarly works, health studies and other sources.

Household size is a statistic attracting increasing interest for marketing purposes as well as academic and the last forty years have seen radical change in living patterns as households have dropped in size, some time to less than half their original size. The global average in 1900 was 5.6 individuals per household, by1950 it fell to 4.7, to 3.9 in 2000 and is projected at 3.4 in 2050. Many companies used to think in population terms but now realise that with the steady reduction in household size over the last four decades the marketing landscape has already altered and will continue to do so. Paradoxically we can see a population decline but an increase in the number of households as they get smaller. This simple fact offers a large marketing opportunity to the marketers of household goods and services.

Some countries publish forward estimates of household size. In other cases we looked at the trends over the last 40 to 50 years to project forward to 2050. In some of the advanced countries average household sizes have already fallen to levels so low, with high proportions of single person homes, that there cannot be much further reduction. In the developing world most countries have seen some reduction in size but not all. In a few MENA countries there have been increases in household size.

By combining the official population projections and our estimated household sizes we have constructed a database of numbers of households from the present day up to 2050, in the same way that we built it from 1900 where we did not have actual household counts.

Definition of a household

This is not as simple as at first it may appear. The many variations employed in different countries and reports lead to quite large disparities between different published sources. The following are examples of definitions which are used officially in several countries. Other countries have variants of these definition but they are all consistent in meaning. A household is not necessarily the same as a family.

UK Statistics

A household is defined as “one person or a group of people who have the accommodation as their only or main residence and for a group, either share at least one meal a day or share the living accommodation, that is, a living room or sitting room”.

US Census

A household includes all the persons who occupy a housing unit. A housing unit is a house, an apartment, a mobile home, a group of rooms, or a single room that is occupied (or if vacant, is intended for occupancy) as separate living quarters. Separate living quarters are those in which the occupants live and eat separately from any other persons in the building and which have direct access from the outside of the building or through a common hall. The occupants may be a single family, one person living alone, two or more families living together, or any other group of related or unrelated persons who share living arrangements. (People not living in households are classified as living in group quarters.)

The difficulty in defining household is not only the definition of the household itself but also the conditions in which it exists and in this respect countries are not all the same.

Non-domestic accommodation in not included within the term household. By this we mean institutional dwellers, sometimes described as “non-family” although household members are not necessarily members of a family. Institutional dwellers include people living in a boarding school, prison, military barracks, working dormitories or similar accommodation. In some countries the institutional population is quite large.

Some countries differentiate between occupied and vacant households. This has implications when defining a universe for a market. An unoccupied household is of no interest to a company selling household foodstuffs but it is relevant to a suppliers of electricity or electricity meters, whether in actual use of not.

The same arguments apply to a “secondary” home, which has the difference that it is sometimes occupied and sometimes empty.

In many cases the precise definition along these lines is not available and we have to accept what is given.

The following are examples of some official Census figures from each country, to demonstrate the margins.

France- 2006

  • The French census published the following figures in 2006.Population 61,400,000
  • Primary residences 26,263,000
  • Secondary residences 3,106,000
  • Vacant 1,899,000
  • Total 31,267,000
  • Household size 2.3

The report did not define how the household count was derived but it is appears to be from the total population divided by the average household size in occupied primary homes. This gives a household count of 26,695,652, which does not correspond exactly.

Russia – 2002

  • Occupied households 49,800,000
  • Total 55,000,000

China – 2010

2010 Census

401,520,000 “family” households, housing 1,244,610,000 persons out a total population of 1,339,724,852, i.e. 89%. 95 million individuals are not in “family”, which in this case corresponds to household accommodation.

Japan – 2010

  • Population 128,056,000
  • Household members 125,475,000
  • Household size 2.46

USA – 2002 Census

  • Family households 109,297,000
  • Non-family households 34,969,000
  • Household size 2.58

Applying HH size to family population gives 282 million, which is close to the actual population of 287 million.

2010 Census

  • 131,700,000 housing units
  • 116,700,000 had occupants i.e. 88.6%.

Variations in the data

Because of these discrepancies of definition between countries and sources there is a variation in the numbers calculated and even published by official bodies. For example, we have found difference in publications from the OECD, the EU and the European Environment Agency for the same countries. The differences are small and overall we estimate a variation should be allowed of up to around ±4.5% in the households estimates. It should be emphasised that these are not mistakes, they are differences of definition and each figure is in itself accurate.

3. % electrification (% of households connected to an electricity supply, grid or isolated system)

The process of compiling the database of electrification rates was similar to that for household size, in diversity and number so sources used. There are two centralised sources, one published by the IEA and the other by the World Bank in 2002 in the World Energy Outlook. Both are useful references and we would like to recognise them but they are snapshots for a limited number of countries. For our purposes we needed much more and an extensive search was conducted and is ongoing.

4. % gasification (% of households connected to a piped gas system)
5. % with piped water supply

6. Numbers of households connected to an electricity grid, connected to piped gas, and with piped water supply.

For the final outputs, we multiplied the household data by the access percentages in each country and each year to obtain household counts for each of the three categories.

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