Simplicity Institute Study

A Study on Simple Living, Downshifting and Other Low- Consumption Lifestyles in Affluent Nations

The Simplicity Institute is undertaking a multi-national study of people who have voluntarily adopted a 'simpler' way of life. The purpose of this study is to gain some empirical insight into those people who are choosing to move away from high-consumption, materialistic lifestyles and who are embracing simpler lifestyles of reduced or restrained income and consumption.

Who should fill out this survey?

This survey is intended for:

  • Those people who are living a 'simpler life' of reduced or restrained income, consumption and/or working hours.

(If you are a parent who has reduced or stopped paid employment to care for your children, or if you are a student, please fill out this survey only if you think your 'simpler lifestyle' is a long-term way of life.)

This study is not intended for:

  • Those for whom simple living is involuntary.


This survey will be used for academic research and analysis. The Simplicity Institute will hold the data collected under the strictest standards of privacy. No personal details identifying individuals will ever be published.

The survey should take around 4 minutes to fill in.  One lucky participant will receive a collection of the finest literature on 'simple living'.  Thank you for participating!

  1. What is your gender?
  2. What is your age?
  3. What is your marital status?
  4. Do you have children?
  5. Do you own your own home?
  6. In what region of the world do you live?
  7. Which of the following describes your locality?
  8. What is your level of formal education?
  9. What is your average hours of paid work per week?
  10. What is your approximate household annual income in US dollars? (If you need a currency converter click here)
  11. Have you heard of the terms 'voluntary simplicity' or 'downshifting'?
  12. What motivates you to live simply? (Check all that apply)
  13. Was 'simple living' part of your upbringing?
  14. Is your decision to live simply a long-term lifestyle decision?
  15. Did retirement play a role in your transition to a simpler lifestyle?
  16. Did you take any of the following actions to live more simply? (Check all that apply)
  17. If you could, would you reduce your current paid working hours and accept a proportionate reduction in income?
  18. How often do you buy organic, local, fair-trade or 'green' products?
  19. How would you describe your diet?
  20. To what degree does living simply affect your clothing choices?
  21. With respect to clothes, which of the following apply to you? (Check all that apply)
  22. When travelling locally (less than 5km), would you usually:
  23. How many cars do you have in your household?
  24. Where does your household acquire the energy it uses? (Check all that apply)
  25. Do you take steps to reduce your household energy consumption?
  26. In your household do you grow your own fruit and/or vegetables?
  27. Do you recycle?
  28. Do you compost?
  29. Is some sort of spiritual practice a regular part of your life?
  30. How much television do you watch?
  31. Are you involved in any community organization(s)?
  32. How would you describe your connection to nature?
  33. How important is it to you that the dwelling in which you live (the building itself) reflects your 'simpler' lifestyle and values?
  34. Do any of the following features of your dwelling (the building itself) reflect your 'simpler' lifestyle and values? (Check all that apply)
  35. Would you like to live in a co-housing or eco-village arrangement?
  36. Are you involved in any barter or informal exchange systems e.g. food swaps, LETS etc
  37. Now that you live more simply, are you happier than before?
  38. If you've reduced your income, do you miss the extra income of your previous lifestyle?
  39. Do you find living simply has been socially isolating in any way?
  40. How important is minimizing expenditure in the practice of simple living for you?
  41. How important is having fewer possessions in the practice of simple living for you?
  42. Do you believe advanced technology has a role to play in living simply?
  43. Which one of the following present the greatest obstacle to living simply for you?
  44. Are you engaged in any community or political organization related to simple living?
  45. Do you think your local and/or national government does enough to support simple living?
  46. Would you vote for a political party that was dedicated to promoting simpler lifestyles?
  47. Do you see yourself as part of a 'simple living' movement?
  48. Does the notion of 'peak oil' motivate you to live simply?
  49. What are the best aspects of living simply for you?
  50. What other challenges do you encounter in living simply that haven't been covered already?
  51. How do you think governments could better support simple living?
  52. Are there any other comments you would like to make?
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