Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Household Expenditure Survey for 1998/99, are used to investigate the characteristics of households with a high per capita water use in Canberra, Australia's capital city. The results indicate that higher per capita water use is a function of household size (with large households achieving economies of size by sharing water consuming resources) and household income (with wealthy individuals using more water per capita).

Linking these findings to Australian Bureau of Statistics projections of shrinking household size, the authors conclude that the resultant decline in household efficiency will drive up the demand for water, unless offset by demand management policies that focus not just on consumer behaviour (e.g. water restrictions) but also on the water efficiency of housing and domestic water-using appliances.

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