Chancel L.,The Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations IDDRI
Ecological Economics | Year: 2014
Proper understanding of the determinants of household CO2 emissions is essential for a shift to sustainable lifestyles. This paper explores the impacts of date of birth and income on household CO2 emissions in France and in the USA. Direct CO2 emissions of French and American households are computed from consumer budget surveys, over the 1980-2000 time period. Age Period Cohort estimators are used to isolate the generational effect on CO2 emissions - i.e. the specific effect of date of birth, independent of the age, the year and other control variables. The paper shows that French 1935-55 cohorts have a stronger tendency to emit CO2 than their predecessors and followers. The generational effect is explained by the fact that over their lifespan, French baby boomers are better off than other generations and live in energy and carbon inefficient dwellings. In the USA, the absence of a generational effect on CO2 emissions can be explained by the fact that intergenerational income inequalities are weaker than in France. Persistence of the generational effect once income and housing type is controlled for in France can be explained by the difficulty for French 1935-55 cohorts to adapt to sober energy consumption patterns. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.