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Sustainable consumption and happiness


  • Veenhoven, Ruut


One of the reasons for promoting sustainable consumption is that it may give rise to greater happiness of a greater number, at least in the long run. In this paper I explore the strength of that moral account. I take stock of the assumed effects of sustainable consumption on happiness and next review the empirical evidence for such effects on the present generation. I make also educated guesses about consequences for the happiness of later generations. The evidence suggests that a shift to sustainable consumption involve a minor reduction of happiness, at least temporarily, but that we can live quite happy with less luxury. Sustainable consumption of the present generation will only add to the happiness of future generations if it prevents major ecological disasters or if exhaustion of resources will reduce to poverty. Moral justification of sustainable consumption can better appeal to the inherent value of the things it aims to sustain than on human happiness

Suggested Citation

  • Veenhoven, Ruut, 2004. "Sustainable consumption and happiness," MPRA Paper 11279, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:11279

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lomborg,Bjørn, 2001. "The Skeptical Environmentalist," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521010689.
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    Cited by:

    1. Constantin Popescu & Silvia-Florina Popescu & Cristina Stroe, 2010. "Consumption For The Fulfillment Of Human Life," The AMFITEATRU ECONOMIC journal, Academy of Economic Studies - Bucharest, Romania, vol. 12(28), pages 530-545, June.

    More about this item


    consumption; happiness;

    JEL classification:

    • Q50 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - General
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries
    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development
    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • Q30 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - General


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