Ruut Veenhoven
Paper presented at the international workshop ’Driving forces and barriers to sustainable consumption’ University of Leeds, UK, March 5-6, 2004

One of the reasons for promoting sustainable consumption is that it may give rise to greater happiness of a greater number, at least in the long run. In this paper I explore the strength of that moral account. I take stock of the assumed effects of sustainable consumption on happiness and next review the empirical evidence for such effects on the present generation. I make also educated guesses about consequences for the happiness of later generations.
The evidence suggests that a shift to sustainable consumption involve a minor reduction of happiness, at least temporarily, but that we can live quite happy with less luxury. Sustainable consumption of the present generation will only add to the happiness of future generations if it prevents major ecological disasters or if exhaustion of resources will reduce to poverty.Moral justification of sustainable consumption can better appeal to the inherent value of the things it aims to sustain than on human happiness.

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