Population and Environment

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 111–130 | Cite as

Is divorce green? Energy use and marital dissolution

  • Solveig Glestad ChristiansenEmail author
  • Vegard Skirbekk
Original Paper


Earlier studies argue that a greater prevalence of divorce increases energy use since divorce increases the number of smaller households that tend to be less energy efficient due to economics of scale. However, divorced individuals also have, on net, considerably lower fertility than individuals who are continuously married. In the current study, we employ a dynamic household projection model that incorporates the effects of divorce on fertility, thereby allowing us to consider both short (40-year horizon) and long-term (exceeding 40 years) effects of divorce on energy consumption. We find that, whereas increased divorce rates lead to higher residential energy use in the short run, divorce is likely to imply lower domestic energy use in the longer term.


Energy use Household projections Divorce Fertility Register data Denmark 



This paper is part of the research activities at the centre of Equality, Social Organization, and Performance (ESOP) at the Department of Economics at the University of Oslo. ESOP is supported by the Research Council of Norway. This paper was written while the first author took part in the Young Scientist Summer Program at IIASA. Thanks to the Research Council of Norway for funding this stay. Thanks to Thomas Michael Nielsen at Statistics Denmark for answering all our queries regarding the data and to Emilio Zagheni for sharing the data from his research. We would also like to acknowledge useful comments made by our anonymous reviewers, Nico Keilman, Shonali Pachauri, Warren Sanderson, William Butz and Raya Muttarak and by participants at IIASA’s Late Summer Workshop, August 2013 and at the workshop “Holistic Approaches to Global Challenges” in Bergen, November 2013.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Solveig Glestad Christiansen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Vegard Skirbekk
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  2. 2.Norwegian Institute of Public HealthOsloNorway

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