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Apparent and Genuine Affluence: Their Relation to Energy Consumption

Michael G. Lacy
Sociological Perspectives
Vol. 28, No. 2 (Apr., 1985), pp. 117-143
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
DOI: 10.2307/1389054
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1389054
Page Count: 27
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Apparent and Genuine Affluence: Their Relation to Energy Consumption
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Abstract

The twentieth century rise in energy consumption appears to be due more to rises in affluence than changes in energy technology. This conclusion is disputed by suggesting that the rise in energy consumption is due not to a genuine rise in affluence, but to the use of energy to produce goods and services that only compensate for the poorer character of new products and the environment within which they function. This thesis is examined using data on durability of products, and a measure of affluence that takes account of changes in the socioeconomic environment. These data indicate that changes in the environment can partly explain the rise in energy consumption, whereas changes in durability have had little if any effect.

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