An Exploration of the Relationship between Socioeconomic and Well-Being Variables and Household Greenhouse Gas Emissions


  • Jeffrey Wilson,

    Corresponding author
    • Address correspondence to: Jeffrey Wilson, College of Sustainability, Dalhousie University, 1459 LeMarchant Street, Halifax NS, B3H 3P8, Canada. Email:

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  • Peter Tyedmers,

  • Jamie E. L. Spinney


This research reports on a multivariate analysis that examined the relationship between direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and socioeconomic and well-being variables for 1,920 respondents living in Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia, Canada, using results from the Halifax Space-Time Activity Research Project. The unique data set allows us to estimate direct GHG emissions with an unprecedented level of specificity based on household energy use survey data and geographic positioning system–verified personal travel data. Of the variables analyzed, household size, income, community zone, age, and marital status are all statistically significant predictors of direct GHG emissions. Birthplace, ethnicity, educational attainment, perceptions of health, life satisfaction, job satisfaction, happiness, volunteering, or community belonging did not seem to matter. In addition, we examined whether those reporting energy-efficient behaviors had lower GHG emissions. No significant differences were discovered among the groups analyzed, supporting a growing body of research indicating a disconnect between environmental attitudes and behaviors and environmental impact. Among the predictor variables, those reporting to be married, young, low income, and living in households with more people have correspondingly lower direct GHG emissions than other categories in respective groupings. Our finding that respondents with lifestyles that generate higher GHG emissions did not report to be healthier, happier, or more connected to their communities suggest that individuals can experience similar degrees of well-being regardless of the amount of GHG emissions associated with his or her respective lifestyle.