Jevons paradox

Economics, Climate
(York and McGee 2016; Polimeni et al. 2015), Wikipedia, Real climate economics blog posts (Jim Barrett)


Jevons Paradox is used to describe the situation where an increase in resource efficiency triggered by technological innovation has the counter-intuitive effect of raising the demand and increasing the overall consumption.

It was first described in W. S. Jenvons' book The Coal question in 1865.

It is closely to another paradox well known in road planning (Downs–Thomson paradox) and Wirth’s law in software engineering.


Polimeni, John M, Kozo Mayumi, M Giampietro, and Blake Alcott. 2015. The Jevons’ Paradox and the Myth of Resource Efficiency Improvements.

York, Richard, and Julius Alexander McGee. 2016. “Understanding the Jevons Paradox.” Environmental Sociology 2 (1):77–87.

← Back to Notes