A Review of the Energy-employment Nexus in Bangladesh: Rural-urban Electrification and Sectoral Occupation Patterns

  • Syed Mahbubur Rahman BRAC Business School, BRAC University, Dhaka 1212, Bangladesh
  • Joshua Kirshner Department of Environment and Geography, University of York, Heslington, York YO10 5NG, United Kingdom
  • Sebastian Groh BRAC Business School, BRAC University, Dhaka 1212, Bangladesh
  • Syed Mustafizur Rahman Geophysics Lab, Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, University of Rajshahi, Rajshahi 6205, Bangladesh
Keywords: Employment, Urban, Rural, Bangladesh, Energy access


Energy access, more specifically electricity access, is one of the prerequisites to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Around one-tenth of the global population remained without access to electricity in 2019. Bangladesh has shown substantial progress in electricity access. This paper aims at reviewing the association between electricity access and employment in the core three sectors: agriculture, industry, and service. The study finds that rural access to electricity is steeper in progress than that of urban areas; and overall access to electricity is increasing, while the urban-rural disparity in energy access is decreasing over time. The proportion of female employment in agriculture has reduced by one third during 1991–2018. Agricultural employment, in general, decreases with an increase in electricity access, which is counterintuitive. The government should consider the issue to keep the agricultural employment stable to ensure food security and the sector’s contribution to gross domestic product.


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Author Biographies

Syed Mahbubur Rahman, BRAC Business School, BRAC University, Dhaka 1212, Bangladesh

Syed Mahbubur Rahman is an associate professor at BRAC Business School, BRAC University. He also teaches under the Open Society University Network (OSUN). Previously he served as a faculty member and researcher in various universities and institutions in the Far East, South East Asia, Middle East, and Europe. With a multi-disciplinary academic background, his research focuses on adaptation to climate change, climate finance, energy and environment policy, health, and sustainable development. He holds a PhD from the Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies, Kyoto University. His scholarly works are available in journals like Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Energy Policy, and Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews.

Joshua Kirshner, Department of Environment and Geography, University of York, Heslington, York YO10 5NG, United Kingdom

Joshua Kirshner is senior lecturer in human geography and environmental studies at the University of York (UK). His interests are in urban development, the economic and political geographies of low-carbon transition, and how access to clean energy services intersects with poverty and inequality concerns. His research combines critical social science insights with grounded, participatory methods for collective learning and social change. It has been supported by diverse funding sources, including research councils (UK ESRC, NERC), government agencies (UK Aid, Fulbright Commission) and foundations (British Academy, Atlantic Philanthropies). He is a member of the Energy Research & Social Science editorial board.

Sebastian Groh, BRAC Business School, BRAC University, Dhaka 1212, Bangladesh

Sebastian Groh is a 2013 Stanford Ignite Fellow from Stanford Graduate School of Business and holds a PhD from Aalborg University and the Postgraduate School Microenergy Systems at the TU Berlin where he wrote his doctoral thesis on the role of energy in development processes, energy poverty & technical innovations, with a special focus on Bangladesh. He co-published two books and multiple journal articles on the topic of decentralized electrification in the Global South. He is an Associate Professor at BRAC University in Dhaka (Bangladesh) where he teaches strategic management, as well as social entrepreneurship via the Open Society University Network (OSUN).

Syed Mustafizur Rahman, Geophysics Lab, Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, University of Rajshahi, Rajshahi 6205, Bangladesh

Syed Mustafizur Rahman is a professor and a researcher in the Geophysics Lab under the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering of the University of Rajshahi, Bangladesh. His research interests include seismology, hydrogeology, climate change, seasonal variability, droughts, and basic issues in local climate change. He has written numerous book chapters and journal articles. He supervises master’s and doctoral students from home and abroad. Besides academic responsibilities, he is also the Director of the Central Science Lab of the same university.


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