Environmental Concern and Economic Growth: Public Opinion Across 107 Countries From 1995 to 2022
This study examines three questions across countries and over time. First, how the public is prioritizing between the environment and economic growth is investigated. Second, the association between how the public prioritizes between the environment and economic growth, and the public's level of political confidence is examined. Third, the opinion of wanting a radical change of society's organization is studied in relation to the opinion of how to prioritize between the environment and economic growth. The purpose is to gain knowledge about the public's standpoint in the environment-economy dilemma in several countries over time, valuable for policy creation and policy changes. On the basis of describing the dominant practices as staying within the economic growth paradigm, this is discussed with relation to the theoretical notion of ecological modernization, contrasted with the view shared by the degrowth movement. The environmental conflict about what role economic growth should take in society is explained by use of political ecology and political ontology, acknowledging that, in fact, different ontologies exist simultaneously. Political confidence captures the public's feelings about their government and is included to determine its association to the prioritization choice. Multivariate imputation by chained equations (MICE) was performed to deal with some missing data, successfully improving the data. Using multilevel regression including a set of control variables on the World Values Survey's time-series dataset, involving 107 countries where each has up to 5 measurement points between the years 1995 to 2022, a mapping of the current political landscape was enabled. Countries do differ both in their starting points and in the form of their trajectories. An overview of the analyzed countries will be shown, illustrating trends both within countries, between countries and over time. Main findings are that the public opinion on the prioritization question is stable throughout the years, as well as the public opinion on whether they wish a radical change of society, and a significant association is found between the prioritization choice and people's level of political confidence but this depends on the year. The study inspires questions on what future society the public wants, globally, and fits within the study of environmental sociology, political sociology and the sociology of social movements.
environmental concern, economic growth, political confidence, public opinion, multiple imputation