SMMICC - Sustainable middle classes in middle income countries: Transforming carbon consumption patterns

The unprecedented growth of the new middle classes in middle income developing countries implies a strong growth in both consumption and carbon emissions, particularly if consumption patterns mirror the lifestyles of industrialized countries. The drivers of carbon consumption choices of the new middle classes are as unclear as the political relevance of middle class groups as political actors, i.e. citizen-consumers. Understanding both is important for determining future consumption trends.

Project Objectives
This interdisciplinary research project analyses the drivers of individual consumption choices of the new middle classes and the influence of different middle class consumer groups on policy. The project explores concrete options to change existing trends towards low-carbon consumption.

The project compares the emerging middle classes in Ghana, Peru and the Philippines. It focuses on the emission-intensive sectors transport, housing and appliances. To understand which motivations and reasons drive the new middle classes’ consumption patterns, the research group draws on concepts from economics, psychology and political science. The group will jointly develop concrete strategies and interventions for advancing sustainable consumption with local research partners and stakeholders. These will be tested in experimental settings to inform policy.

Research partners are the Grupo de Análisis para el Desarollo (GRADE) in Peru, the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), University of Ghana, und des Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

Project goals:

  • Creation of a unique dataset that links the “what”, “why” and “how” of consumption among the new middle classes
  • Contribution to theory-building on political consumption in middle income countries
  • Development and test of concrete interventions to advance sustainable consumption in Ghana, Peru and the Philippines
  • Concrete, targeted advice for policymakers and other key decision-makers in the field.

The project cooperates with the United Nations Environment Programme “10 YFP Sustainable Consumption and Production – Sustainable Lifestyles and Education Programme”.

Project Management

Dr. Babette Never
German Development Institute (DIE)
Tulpenfeld 6, 53113 Bonn

Tel.: +49 (0)228 94927-244


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