Do parents counter-balance the carbon emissions of their children?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Standard

Do parents counter-balance the carbon emissions of their children? / Nordström, Jonas; Shogren, Jason F; Thunström, Linda.

In: PLoS ONE, Vol. 15, No. 4, e0231105, 15.04.2020, p. 1-16.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Harvard

APA

CBE

MLA

Vancouver

Author

Nordström, Jonas ; Shogren, Jason F ; Thunström, Linda. / Do parents counter-balance the carbon emissions of their children?. In: PLoS ONE. 2020 ; Vol. 15, No. 4. pp. 1-16.

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - Do parents counter-balance the carbon emissions of their children?

AU - Nordström, Jonas

AU - Shogren, Jason F

AU - Thunström, Linda

PY - 2020/4/15

Y1 - 2020/4/15

N2 - It is well understood that adding to the population increases CO2 emissions. At the same time, having children is a transformative experience, such that it might profoundly change adult (i.e., parents') preferences and consumption. How it might change is, however, unknown. Depending on if becoming a parent makes a person "greener" or "browner," parents may either balance or exacerbate the added CO2 emissions from their children. Parents might think more about the future, compared to childless adults, including risks posed to their children from environmental events like climate change. But parenthood also adds needs and more intensive competition on your scarce time. Carbon-intensive goods can add convenience and help save time, e.g., driving may facilitate being in more places in one day, compared to public transportation or biking. Pre-prepared food that contain red meat may save time and satisfy more household preferences, relative to vegetarian food. We provide the first rigorous test of whether parents are greener or browner than other adults. We create a unique dataset by combining detailed micro data on household expenditures of all expenditure groups particularly important for CO2 emissions (transportation, food, and heating/electricity) with CO2 emissions, and compare emissions from Swedish adults with and without children. We find that parents emit more CO2 than childless adults. Only a small fraction of adults permanently choose not to have children, which means any meaningful self-selection into parenthood based on green preferences is unlikely. Our findings suggest that having children might increase CO2 emissions both by adding to the population and by increasing CO2 emissions from those choosing to have children.

AB - It is well understood that adding to the population increases CO2 emissions. At the same time, having children is a transformative experience, such that it might profoundly change adult (i.e., parents') preferences and consumption. How it might change is, however, unknown. Depending on if becoming a parent makes a person "greener" or "browner," parents may either balance or exacerbate the added CO2 emissions from their children. Parents might think more about the future, compared to childless adults, including risks posed to their children from environmental events like climate change. But parenthood also adds needs and more intensive competition on your scarce time. Carbon-intensive goods can add convenience and help save time, e.g., driving may facilitate being in more places in one day, compared to public transportation or biking. Pre-prepared food that contain red meat may save time and satisfy more household preferences, relative to vegetarian food. We provide the first rigorous test of whether parents are greener or browner than other adults. We create a unique dataset by combining detailed micro data on household expenditures of all expenditure groups particularly important for CO2 emissions (transportation, food, and heating/electricity) with CO2 emissions, and compare emissions from Swedish adults with and without children. We find that parents emit more CO2 than childless adults. Only a small fraction of adults permanently choose not to have children, which means any meaningful self-selection into parenthood based on green preferences is unlikely. Our findings suggest that having children might increase CO2 emissions both by adding to the population and by increasing CO2 emissions from those choosing to have children.

KW - Population growth

KW - CO2 emissions

KW - Sustainable consumption

KW - Time constraints

KW - Food

KW - Transportation

KW - Population growth

KW - CO2 emissions

KW - Sustainable consumption

KW - Time constraints

KW - Food

KW - Transportation

U2 - 10.1371/journal.pone.0231105

DO - 10.1371/journal.pone.0231105

M3 - Article

VL - 15

SP - 1

EP - 16

JO - PLoS ONE

JF - PLoS ONE

SN - 1932-6203

IS - 4

M1 - e0231105

ER -