The Impact of Social Factors and Consumer Behavior on Carbon Dioxide Emissions in the United Kingdom

A Regression Based on Input−Output and Geodemographic Consumer Segmentation Data


Address correspondence to:
Giovanni Baiocchi
Durham Business School
Durham University
Durham DH1 3HY
United Kingdom


In this article we apply geodemographic consumer segmentation data in an input−output framework to understand the direct and indirect carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions associated with consumer behavior of different lifestyles in the United Kingdom. In a subsequent regression analysis, we utilize the lifestyle segments contained in the dataset to control for aspects of behavioral differences related to lifestyles in an analysis of the impact of various socioeconomic variables on CO2 emissions, such as individual aspirations and people's attitudes toward the environment, as well as the physical context in which people act.

This approach enables us to (1) test for the significance of lifestyles in determining CO2 emissions, (2) quantify the importance of a variety of individual socioeconomic determinants, and (3) provide a visual representation of “where” the various factors exert the greatest impact, by exploiting the spatial information contained in the lifestyle data.

Our results indicate the importance of consumer behavior and lifestyles in understanding CO2 emissions in the United Kingdom. Across lifestyle groups, CO2 emissions can vary by a factor of between 2 and 3. Our regression results provide support for the idea that sociodemographic variables are important in explaining emissions. For instance, controlling for lifestyles and other determinants, we find that emissions are increasing with income and decreasing with education. Using the spatial information, we illustrate how the lifestyle mix of households in the United Kingdom affects the geographic distribution of environmental impacts.