Households, Consumption, and Energy Use: The Role of Demographic Change in Future U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions

EPA Grant Number: R829801
Title: Households, Consumption, and Energy Use: The Role of Demographic Change in Future U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Investigators: ONeill, Brian , Prskawetz, Alexia , Pitkin, John , Dalton, Michael
Current Investigators: ONeill, Brian , Prskawetz, Alexia , Leiwen, Jiang , Pitkin, John , Dalton, Michael
Institution: Brown University , Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research , California State University - Monterey Bay
Current Institution: Brown University , California State University - Monterey Bay , Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: September 1, 2002 through September 30, 2005 (Extended to September 30, 2006)
Project Amount: $279,015
RFA: Futures: Research in Socio-Economics (2001) RFA Text
Research Category: Environmental Justice


The primary objective of the proposed research is to determine whether expected changes in the composition of the U.S. population by household type over the next 25-100 years will have a substantial influence on total energy demand and carbon dioxide emissions. Specific aims for achieving this overall goal are (1) to develop a set of long-term household projections that characterize plausible ranges of the future distribution of households by size, age, composition, and other demographic characteristics, including nativity; (2) to quantify how consumption patterns vary across households of different types; (3) to introduce disaggregated household types into an existing energy-economic growth model of the U.S. to test the effect of accounting for demographic heterogeneity in energy and emissions projections, including the potential effects of alternative immigration scenarios.


The approach will be to introduce distinct categories of households by type into the Population-Environment-Technology (PET) model, a state of the art computable general equilibrium model of energy and economic growth developed at Stanford University and CSU Monterey Bay to explore scenarios for future energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. Appropriate household categories will be determined by statistical analysis of Consumer Expenditure Survey data to determine how patterns of consumption vary by household type. The PET model translates consumption of various goods into demand for energy and resulting carbon dioxide emissions, allowing the total energy requirements of household consumption to be accounted for within a general equilibrium framework. A set of household projections for the U.S. will be created by using recently developed methodology that allows household distributions to be projected in great detail. We will produce an array of scenarios that fully characterize the uncertainty in future household distributions.

Expected Results:

The project will illustrate the nature and magnitude of the effect of changing demographic composition on energy use and CO2 emissions, a topic not incorporated in current projection models. Conclusions will be immediately relevant to both policy analysts and researchers in the climate change field, since projections play a key role in anticipating the amount and rate of climate change possible in the absence of policy responses as well as in estimates of the costs of emissions reductions.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 14 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 2 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

global climate, population, elderly, integrated assessment, socio-economic, social science, demography, modeling, surveys,, RFA, Economic, Social, & Behavioral Science Research Program, Scientific Discipline, Air, climate change, Economics, decision-making, Social Science, Economics & Decision Making, environmental monitoring, demographic, anthropogenic stress, atmospheric carbon dioxide, carbon emissions, energy generation, human population growth, population environment technology model, socioeconomic indicators, socioeconomics, greenhouse gases, human dimension, population abundance, global warming , energy consumption, demographics, ecosystem sustainability, behavior change, climate variability

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2003 Progress Report
  • 2004 Progress Report
  • 2005 Progress Report
  • 2006
  • Final Report