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01-06-2024 | Original Paper

Residential energy consumption by Japan’s super-aging society: visioning a more sustainable future up to 2040

Authors: Nozomu Inoue, Shigeru Matsumoto, Kozo Mayumi

Published in: Population and Environment | Issue 2/2024

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Abstract

Japan is a leading exemplar of rapidly aging countries, holding very low fertility rate. Under such circumstances, the present paper examines two important aspects of residential energy consumption patterns of Japan up to the year 2040: (i) presenting two future scenarios of residential energy consumption and (ii) reexamining the effectiveness of traditional strategy to reduce energy consumption mainly through energy efficiency improvement. Before presenting the two main topics of the paper, three important factors are discussed: (i) the population aging effect; (ii) the generation gap in energy use patterns; and (iii) the decline in family size. These factors influence the relationship between the aging population and residential energy consumption. Then, a brief explanation is given for survey data sources, six household types in 11 regions of Japan, and four types of energy carriers. The first scenario assumes that residential energy consumption pattern of each household type remains unchanged from the current situation and that the population projection holds true. The total residential energy consumption will decrease by only 6% between 2020 and 2040. Yet, per capita residential energy consumption will increase despite the fact that the population size will decrease by 10.6%. The second scenario assumes that slightly higher energy efficiency improvements than in the past 15 years will continue to reduce energy consumption from 2020 to 2040. The simulation result of this optimistic scenario also suggests that conventional energy conservation strategies alone are far from sufficient to reduce residential energy consumption per capita. Thus, an alternative strategy to overcome the spell of Jevons’ paradox is urgently required. Frugality combined with lifestyle and behavior change should be seriously attempted to achieve sustainable future for societies including aging countries like Japan.

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Appendix
Available only for authorised users
Footnotes
1
Pais-Magalhães et al. (2022) conducted a panel data analysis to analyze the impacts of population aging on residential energy consumption for the 28 member states of the European Union. As the demand for heating and cooling varies greatly among member states, they also performed an analysis in which the member states were divided into three regions according to weather conditions. They showed that the impact of the living conditions of elderly people on household energy consumption varies greatly from region to region.
 
2
A single-young person is a person under 65.
 
3
A single-elderly person is a person who is 65 years of age or older.
 
4
The response rate for this survey was only about 70%, and the possibility of respondent bias cannot be ruled out. To avoid the problem of sample bias, it is advisable to use the modification method proposed by, for example, Swanson (1986).
 
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Metadata
Title
Residential energy consumption by Japan’s super-aging society: visioning a more sustainable future up to 2040
Authors
Nozomu Inoue
Shigeru Matsumoto
Kozo Mayumi
Publication date
01-06-2024
Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Published in
Population and Environment / Issue 2/2024
Print ISSN: 0199-0039
Electronic ISSN: 1573-7810
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11111-024-00453-8

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