Environmental Impact Assessment of Household Consumption

Diana Ivanova*, Konstantin Stadler, Kjartan Steen-Olsen, Richard Wood, Gibran Vita, Arnold Tukker, Edgar G. Hertwich

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

270 Citations (Web of Science)


We analyze the environmental impact of household consumption in terms of the material, water, and land‐use requirements, as well as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, associated with the production and use of products and services consumed by these households. Using the new EXIOBASE 2.2 multiregional input‐output database, which describes the world economy at the detail of 43 countries, five rest‐of‐the‐world regions, and 200 product sectors, we are able to trace the origin of the products consumed by households and represent global supply chains for 2007. We highlight the importance of environmental pressure arising from households with their consumption contributing to more than 60% of global GHG emissions and between 50% and 80% of total land, material, and water use. The footprints are unevenly distributed across regions, with wealthier countries generating the most significant impacts per capita. Elasticities suggest a robust and significant relationship between households’ expenditure and their environmental impacts, driven by a rising demand of nonprimary consumption items. Mobility, shelter, and food are the most important consumption categories across the environmental footprints. Globally, food accounts for 48% and 70% of household impacts on land and water resources, respectively, with consumption of meat, dairy, and processed food rising fast with income. Shelter and mobility stand out with high carbon and material intensity, whereas the significance of services for footprints relates to the large amount of household expenditure associated with them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)526-536
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Industrial Ecology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • environmentally extended multiregional input-output (EE-MRIO) analysis
  • expenditure elasticity
  • footprint analysis
  • household environmental impacts
  • industrial ecology
  • regression analysis


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