Do lower greenhouse gas emissions imply lower subjective wellbeing? A study of Swedish households

Andersson, D., Nässén, J., Larsson, J. & Holmberg, J. (2013). Do lower greenhouse gas emissions imply lower subjective wellbeing? A study of Swedish households. Conference paper presented at SCORAI The Future of Consumerism and Well-Being in a World of Ecological Constraints: Abstracts, May 28, 2013.

Publication type
Conference paper (peer-reviewed)
WISE Well-being in Sustainable cities
David Andersson Jonas Nässén John Holmberg Jörgen Larsson
Published year



In the contemporary discussion on society’s transformation towards long-term climate targets, it is often implicitly assumed that behavioral changes, unlike technological changes, would require sacrifices of individual freedoms and hence cause negative effects on human well-being. In this study we question the foundations for this assumption by analyzing the co-variation between individual households’ greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and subjective well-being (SWB). The aim of the study is to establish a comprehensive picture of the general relationship between SWB and total GHG emissions, as well as to analyze relationships between SWB and emissions from sub-domains including housing, transportation, food, and remaining consumption.

Both direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions are measured in detail. Data on households’ energy requirements and private transportation is collected directly from power companies and the Swedish road registry. Indirect emissions from food, aviation and remaining consumption are estimated using a survey questionnaire sent out to 2500 Swedish households with a net response rate of 40 percent. Subjective well-being is measured using single item questions on affective and cognitive well-being. By adding explanatory variables such as socio-economic conditions (total expenditures, income, household size, education, age), value orientation and urban form parameters (e.g. commuting distances) in a multivariate regression analysis, the relationships between individuals’ greenhouse gas emissions and their well-being are further analyzed.

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