Greening Household Behaviour

Overview from the 2011 Survey - Revised edition

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Developing growth strategies that promote greener lifestyles requires a good understanding of the factors that affect people’s behaviour towards the environment. Based on periodic surveys of more than 10 000 households, this publication presents responses from the most recent round of the OECD survey implemented in 2011, in 5 areas (energy, food, transport, waste and water) and 11 countries: Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Israel, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

The survey provides a common framework to collect unique empirical evidence for better policy design. Analysis comparing the data across countries, policy conditions and household characteristics reveals which measures most effectively change behaviour. Each round of the survey also allows to track changes over time and to explore new emerging issues.

The new survey confirms the importance of providing the right economic incentives for influencing our decisions. The findings indicate that “soft” measures such as labelling and public information campaigns also have a significant complementary role to play. Spurring desirable behaviour change requires a mix of these instruments.

This edition completely replaces the previously posted 2013 edition.

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Household consumption patterns and behaviour have a profound effect on stocks of natural resources and the quality of the environment. The importance of taking the demand side into account is a key lesson arising from the OECD’s Green Growth Strategy. Governments of OECD member countries have introduced a wide variety of measures to encourage people to take environmental impacts into account in their purchases and practices. These may include environment-related taxes, energy efficiency standards for homes and appliances, fuel economy standards for vehicles, CO2 emission labels for cars, and financial support to invest in solar panels. Nevertheless, influencing households remains a challenge for policy makers. Developing growth strategies that promote greener lifestyles requires an improved understanding of the consequences of such policy measures on households’ decisions.

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