Small is beautiful? Stories of carbon footprints, socio-demographic trends and small households in Denmark

Tullia Jack, Diana Ivanova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Shrinking household size is a key challenge for sustainability, simultaneously decreasing sharing and increasing resource consumption. We use the Danish Household Budget Survey and carbon intensities from EXIOBASE to characterise small households in socio-demographic cohorts along the carbon footprint spectrum. Single and dual occupant households represent 77% of the Danish carbon footprint and 73% of the sample, making these households highly relevant for climate and social policy. We identify high carbon footprint cohorts to determine potential intervention targets such as wealthy males living alone and couples in suburban areas. To add emotional depth to these characteristics we provide three stories to our results. Illuminating characteristics of high impact households provides a foundation from which to design and implement interventions to reduce the carbon consequences of the growing trend towards living alone. We also characterise low carbon footprint cohorts, with specific focus on the effects of low income, disability, energy poverty, and population density. Our study makes an original contribution using storytelling, a step in the direction of increasing empathy and compassion for the various carbon footprint cohorts and working toward socially and environmentally sustainable futures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102130
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Economics and Business

Free keywords

  • Carbon footprint
  • Consumption
  • Everyday life
  • Household size
  • Small households
  • Storytelling


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