Oehlmann, M. et al.Effects of changing incomes on resource consumption

Recommended reading

Malte Oehlmann, Manuel Linsenmeier, Walter Kahlenborn, Katharina Götting, Katharina Klaas, Andreas Ciroth, Jonas Bunsen & Marc Rossbach

Release date:
December 2021

German Federal Environmental Agency (UBA), texts | 04/2021

Private household income and consumption have been growing for some years. At the same time private household consumption accounts for a high proportion of global resource usage. This prompts the question what impact rising income levels have on environmentally harmful behavior. Especially in the German context, there are hardly any empirical findings on the relationship between household income and the consumption of resources by private households. This is where the project "Income and Resources - Impact of Changed Income on Resource Consumption" comes in. The focus of interest here is the extent to which higher household incomes are associated with higher resource consumption, or whether there are signs of decoupling. To answer this question, quantitative data on private household consumption was connected with life cycle assessments (i.a. including greenhouse gas emissions and land use) before the effect of income on consumption levels was examined trough regression models. In addition, other influencing variables such as the level of education, the size of the place of residence and age were explored. The results show that in the areas of mobility, clothing and housing household income is the dominant influencing variable on consumption-induced resource usage. This holds true even after controlling for other influencing variables. Households with a higher income partly have a considerably higher resource consumption. The picture is more heterogeneous for the other explanatory variables. Within the scope of this analysis, no evidence was found to suggest that resource consumption and income decouple at some point. The correlation between higher income and greenhouse gas emissions is particularly strong in the case of mobility.

Link to publication