Inequality of Ecological Footprint in Finland - In search of sustainable limits of consumption and sustainable wellbeing

This post-doctoral research considers the issue of living sustainably within available finite resources. The purpose is to use the ecological footprint (EF) method to examine the environmental impact related to lifestyle of different groups in Finland, based on income level and household size, especially in regard to the group of people living alone. EF is a technique that can be used to examine the amount of land needed to sustain human needs.

EF analysis suggests that we have to reduce consumption in order to live within the finite resources. The paradox is that, although EF per capita has increased on a worldwide scale, international inequalities have not reduced. Finland is in the group of OECD countries where income inequality has increased significantly. It is important to find out specifically which group of people has the highest consumption and hence the highest environmental impact or EF. 

The social and environmental dimensions have usually not been successfully integrated in terms of monetary measurement. Based on the literature review and some initial findings of the research, it is suggested that delivering equity through the approach based on income equity alone is not enough to improve social equity as well as reduce environmental impact. Rather, delivering equitable lifestyle and resources consumption is the path to follow.

The results at the current stage of the research reveal that the group of people living alone in Finland actually consume more resources than the highest income group. This has been measured through energy footprint of different households in Finland by income and household size, including different consumption categories: food and drinks, clothing and footwear, housing, furniture and appliances, transport, healthcare and education, recreation, and other miscellaneous services.

Although single living consumed much more resources than the average, it does not mean a single person has better quality of life or is happier although they have spent most of their income.  This research has explored how individuals can earn an income, and how people spend their time that allows them to fulfill their fundamental human needs while living within the available resources.


This research is conducted as the post-doctoral research of Dr. Han Thuc Tran.

The research is fudned by the Kone Foundation.


Last updated: 1.12.2020