I am wondering if there is any evidence that happy people (i.e. generally satisfied with their life condition) live more sustainable (i.e. have a lower environmental footprint) than unhappy people.

  • What is your motivation for asking this question? What relationship do you imagine connects happiness to environmental footprint?
    – LShaver
    Nov 27, 2016 at 19:45
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    My assumption would be that people who have an inner satisfaction are less materialistic and thus consume less energy and materials.
    – orschiro
    Nov 27, 2016 at 21:25
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    why would one be the consequence of the other and not the other way round? Also, which culture are you referring to?
    – Memes
    Nov 28, 2016 at 1:31
  • Good point. This is opening an entire field of new questions. I will start to research this deeper. Thank you for the thoughts.
    – orschiro
    Nov 28, 2016 at 8:16
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    The less satisfaction I have at work, the more I feel like forgetting environmental issues and buying stuff, expensive holidays, long flights away from "here". I am very curious about this. Aug 23, 2018 at 12:15

1 Answer 1


The largest predictor of sustainable consumption is poverty. The diverse rich all consume far more resources. Because there is a robust relationship between income and health, and even between income and happiness, I would expect that across large populations the happiest are behaving less sustainably.

The environmental behavior of rich countries affects poor countries much more than the reverse, even given the much lower population of rich countries: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/3322505/Environment-damage-of-rich-countries-on-poor.html

Happiness increases linearly with income, and then plateaus https://qz.com/1211957/how-much-money-do-people-need-to-be-happy/

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    Welcome to Sustainability.SE, and thanks for your answer! Could you provide a few key details from the links you've added, so that it will still be helpful in the event that the links break?
    – LShaver
    Aug 24, 2018 at 15:57

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