Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

John Zhai

Second Advisor

Gregor P. Henze

Third Advisor

Daria Kotys-Schwartz

Fourth Advisor

Bernard Amadei

Fifth Advisor

Xudong Yang


Watrous, Abigail Thomas (Ph.D., Civil Engineering)

Environmental Impacts of the Socioeconomic Factors Affecting Energy Use for Rural Families and Migrant Workers in China.

Thesis directed by Associate Professor Dr. John Zhai and Professor Dr. Gregor Henze

Based in a desire to better understand the socioeconomic and environmental impacts of energy use as millions of people migrate from rural China into the cities, this dissertation sought to evaluate what are the key factors involved in how rural Chinese families and migrant workers make their energy choices for home heating and cooking. An additional research goal was to determine if education about renewable energy effects energy consumption patterns. One output of the research was an agent-based model to predict how these factors will affect China's energy consumption patterns over the next 25 years.

By creating, administrating and evaluating the Beijing Migrant Workers' Energy Survey, analyzing the Tsinghua Rural Energy Survey data set, and incorporating these results into an agent-based model, we are able to predict solid fuel use and income levels for rural, urban, and migrant populations in China over the next 25 years.

Data from the Tsinghua Rural Energy Survey was used to calculate the top factors impacting rural energy use and connections between education and solid fuel use, and income and solid fuel use. Data from the Beijing Migrant Workers Energy Survey was used to evaluate factors impacting fuel use by migrant workers, how their energy use changes when they move to the city, and connections between their education level and solid fuel use, and income and solid fuel use. Results from analysis of both data sets were incorporated into a new agent-based model to predict solid fuel use over the next 25 years by rural, urban, and migrant populations.

Major findings were that the top factors influencing rural fuel use were location (north or south), yearly electricity expenses, education level, area of the home, and income. Understanding of renewable energy did not have a significant impact on solid fuel use, although overall education level did. Top factors influencing migrant workers' energy use were how many years they had lived in Beijing, and the type of fuels they used for cooking and heating back home.

Available for download on Thursday, July 18, 2019