World Society and Environmental Behaviors. an Increasing Gap between Ongoing Institutionalization and Private Actions?

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 08:45
Oral Presentation
Markus HADLER, University of Graz, Austria
After some substantial agreements at the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio, the environmental movement was characterized by optimism. This optimism, however, was short lived, after the subsequent failure of various agreements. Correspondently, international comparative survey data also shows that individuals’ support for environmental organizations and related public actions peaked in the early 1990s and have declined ever since. Private behaviors, on the other hand, have remained strong in many countries or have even increased in the same period.

Considering these contrarian trends as backdrop, this contribution investigates individuals’ public and private environmental behaviors across countries and over time using data from the International Social Survey Programme of 1993, 2000, and 2010. Independent variables include various socio-demographics and attitudes at the individual level. At the country level, the international embedding of a society, its economic position and related ecologically unequal exchange as well as other national characteristics such the level of affluence and pollution measures are considered.

Methodologically, a multilevel analysis is applied that considers both individual and contextual characteristics as well as changes over time in a single model. A novel unbalanced time-comparative design is used, which allows to include countries regardless of how many of the three ISSP waves were fielded. This strategy allows to differentiate between over-time and cross-sectional effects, which has been done rarely in previous analyses.

The contribution thus speaks to two audiences: Firstly, to scholars who are interested in individuals’ environmental behaviors, the changes of these behaviors over time, as well as differences and similarities in the underlying determinants. Secondly, it speaks to scholars who are interested in the methodological aspects of how to analyze cross-national and time-comparative survey data in unbalanced datasets.