After 35 years of rebound research in economics: where do we stand?

Reinhard Madlener, Karen Turner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

22 Citations (Scopus)
45 Downloads (Pure)


The phenomenon of rebound effects has sparked considerable academic, policy and press debate over the effectiveness of energy efficiency policy. In recent years, a plethora of theoretical and empirical rebound studies have been published, fueling the discussion but also raising further issues and unanswered questions. At the same time it seems that there is a lack of understanding of how to treat and measure central aspects such as potential energy savings expected and the energy services impacted by an efficiency increase. Moreover, there is a lack of clarity and understanding in how we move from micro to macro levels of analysis and reporting. In terms of policy understanding the crux of the problem is that there is no such thing as a simple formula for all aspects of rebound. The aim of this chapter is to clarify the correct perspective on how to look at economic dimensions of re-bound, with particular attention to what policy-makers can do with rebound analysis and findings. Further, we attempt to synthesize existing rebound taxonomies and to provide, in a concise manner, the economic rebound mechanisms at work. We then approach the rebound theme from both micro and macro perspectives, before bringing the two angles together. Overall, we argue that both policymakers and re-searchers need to be aware that rebound is an issue that ought to be tackled at multiple levels and that there are policy trade-offs, especially between economic growth and ecological sustainability. This may be resolved at least to a certain extent by welfare considerations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRethinking Climate and Energy Policies
Subtitle of host publicationNew Perspectives on the Rebound Phenomenon
EditorsTilman Santarius, Hans Jakob Walnum, Carlo Aall
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9783319388076
ISBN (Print)9783319388052
Publication statusPublished - 19 Aug 2016


  • energy economics
  • energy policy
  • sustainable development
  • economic rebound mechanisms
  • rebound taxonomy
  • economy-wide rebound


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