28 September 2012Higher and lower incomes make little difference to people’s concern about the natural environment, according to new research from the University of Bristol. A paper published today in the European Sociological Review shows that, rather than having more important things to worry about, poor people and poor countries prioritise protecting the environment as much as do richer people and richer countries.
Dr Malcolm Fairbrother of Bristol's School of Geographical Sciences compared surveys from 78 nations in conducting the most comprehensive analysis yet of the relationship between income and environmental attitudes. Previous research has argued that richer people are greener, but has been based on data from a smaller number of countries.
Dr Fairbrother analysed data collected over more than a decade by the World Values Survey programme, which started measuring public opinion about the environment in the late 1980s.Respondents were asked a series of questions about their willingness to pay money to prevent pollution, and about how serious they perceived different kinds of problems to be in their communities. People in poorer countries were much more concerned about local water and air quality, for example, while differences with respect to global issues like biodiversity and climate change were small.
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Dr Malcolm Fairbrother