Is consumption becoming less material? The case of services.

Inge Røpke

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    The need to develop more sustainable consumption patterns in the rich countries is being increasingly realised. Some people hope that the consumption patterns will change, almost by themselves, in a more sustainable direction, because consumers come to a certain degree of satiation with material goods and therefore demand immaterial services. The present article questions this idea in two ways. First some characteristic features of the development of private consumption are outlined, which can help to explain why few signs of satiation can yet be seen. Then it is discussed more in detail whether it is realistic to expect a shift to the types of services that have a less damaging environmental impact. Historically, the increase in public services has been a positive change in this respect, while the contribution from private services has been limited. Future possibilities of increasing environmentally benign services meet serious limitations, so active policies are needed to overcome these.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalInternational Journal of Sustainable Development
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)33-47
    Publication statusPublished - 2001


    • Services
    • Dematerialization
    • Consumption
    • Economic growth

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