The Everyday Life Context of Increasing Energy Demands: Time Use Survey Data in a Decomposition Analysis


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Industrial ecologists have modeled with precision the material foundations of industrial systems, but given less attention to the demand for products and the drivers of structural changes in these systems. This article suggests that time use data complement data on monetary expenditure and can be used to elucidate the everyday life context in which the changes in the economy take place. It builds upon the claim that goods are not direct sources of utility, but enter specific household activities as inputs. A second argument for the proposed approach is that it can be used to introduce and foster human agency in analyses of production systems. The article uses Finnish time use survey data, consumption expenditure data, and data on the sectoral energy intensities of financial output in the Finnish economy. First, a measure of the energy intensity of activities is derived by relating consumer time use and the required direct and indirect energy requirements. Second, the results include a decomposition of changes in the energy requirements of private consumption in Finland during the 1990s. It is shown that although the same activities on average require increasing energy inputs per unit of time, Finns have simultaneously changed the structure of their everyday life toward less energy-intensive activities.