Dematerialisation of consumption: a win-win strategy?
A dematerialisation of the economy can provide a crucial contribution toward sustainable devel-opment. It can take place in the production sphere through technological change or in the con-sumption sphere through altered consumer behaviour. This paper focuses on the second case, a shift of expenditure from material consumption (e.g. manufactured products) to non-material consumption (e.g. services). Since all production requires material, an input-output model is used to account for indirect material use. The model features post-Keynesian macroeconomic founda-tions, which make it possible to study the effects of altered consumption patterns on total con-sumption, output, and income distribution. The empirical application for the case of Germany shows that a dematerialisation of consumption might be considered a win-win strategy from an ecological and economic viewpoint. However, its effects on the distribution of income and inter-national trade may be problematic.
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