• Logged in as Unregistered User
  • Sign in

Social-Ecological Systems Meta-Analysis Database: Theory

Rebound effect

Variable relationship:

The rebound effect describes a situation in which the use of a new technology designed to potentially help conserve a commons (such as drip irrigation or enhancements in energy efficiency) ends up leading to an increased use of the commons (Technology Role), thus leading to a deterioration in the condition of this commons (Commons Condition Trend) (Pfeiffer and Lin 2014). This may occur if the increased conservation makes the commons less expensive and thereby increases overall demand for the commons, which though indeed increases efficiency, may also increase overall use. This trend is also referred to as Jevon's paradox (Jevons 1906; Alcott 2005), where it has mostly been discussed in the energy efficiency sector.

Scientific Field
Component Type(s)
Natural Resource Unit


VariableRoleRole ExplanationValue
Technology roleUnderlying independent variableThe use of new technology increases the efficiency and productivity of the use of a commons.Increased productivity
Technology roleProximate independent variableThe use of a new technology may initially cause increased conservation for a given level of use, but ultimately is predicted to lead to increased commons use over time as it makes a given level of use less expensive to users.Increased commons use
Commons condition trendFinal outcomeAs a result of being used more, the condition of the commons is predicted to deteriorate.Worsened

Related Theories

TheoryRelationshipCharacterizing Variables
Environmental kuznets curvecontradictory
Technical solutions and shifting the burdenrelated
Borlaug hypothesis and deforestationcontradictory

Related Studies


Pfeiffer, L., Lin, C.-Y.C., 2014. Does efficient irrigation technology lead to reduced groundwater extraction? Empirical evidence. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 67, 189–208.


Jevons, W.S., 1906. The coal question: an inquiry concerning the progress of the nation, and the probable exhaustion of our coal-mines. The Macmillan Company.


Alcott, B., 2005. Jevons’ paradox. Ecological economics 54, 9–21.