IntroductionEnvironmental attitudes and preferences differ widely within and across countries. How dodemographic factors and major events in the life-course affect these attitudes? This paper will bea comparative perspective on how demographic characteristics influence environmental values.Inglehart (1995) argues that support for environmental protection arises not only from pollutionand poor environmental quality, but also from subjective values that confer greater importance tothe environment overall. Beyond increased income or wealth, higher levels of education, havingchildren, and cohort effects are factors that must be analyzed in order to better understand theformation of these attitudes and how they may change over time.Much of the contemporary research surrounding preferences for enhanced environmentalquality considers broad theoretical approaches that may explain cross-country differences inattitudes. The first is an emphasis on post-material values, where prosperity and/or the challengeof local environmental issues lead to a demand for better environmental quality. The second isthat preferences for a better environment are much more disperse across rich and poor countries,and even among the rich and poor within individual countries. This is the globalization versionof environmental awareness. Finally, a third approach stems from the economics literature,whereby environmental quality is a public good that people are willing to pay for as incomesrise, but potentially at a declining rate. Within the domain of local environmental issues (such asregional air or water conditions, as opposed to global warming), empirical evidence has largelyconfirmed the inverted-U curve that is generally thought to link per-capita wealth andenvironmental concern. Franzen and Meyer (2010) address these in turn and note that aspects ofeach could contribute to growing environmental concern. They discuss some individual- andnation-level variables that may have an effect as well, such as age, gender, political or religiousactivity, income inequality, and visibility of environmental problems.Missing from the literature so far, however, is a closer look at variables such as the levelof education, its interaction with other socio-demographic variables, the householdcharacteristics (marriage status, number of children), and cohort effects. Furthermore, thesefactors may have differential effects between developed and developing countries or othercountry strata.

European Sociology
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