Wealth Does Not Dictate Concern for the Environment

July 25, 2008

It has been a long-held assumption that poor nations will not support efforts to protect the environment since their citizens are too preoccupied with meeting basic needs, such as food and housing. However, a new study in The Sociological Quarterly reveals that citizens of poorer nations are just as concerned about environmental quality as their counterparts in rich nations.

Riley E. Dunlap, PhD, of Oklahoma State University and Richard York, PhD, of the University of Oregon compared results from four large cross-national surveys, each conducted in several dozen nations ranging with differing economic statuses. Representative samples of citizens were surveyed in each nation.

Results showed that citizens of poorer nations were equally if not more concerned about the environment compared to citizens in wealthier countries. The citizens of the poorer nations were supportive of efforts to solve environmental problems.

The authors believe that previous studies failed to recognize that environmental problems are often a threat to material welfare and not just quality of life. For example, deforestation may threaten the livelihoods of people who depend on forests for firewood, food sources, and economic products.

“Our results suggest that well-designed policies to promote sustainable development will have more appeal to citizens of poor nations than is often assumed,” the authors conclude.

Source: Wiley

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2 comments

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GrayMouser
2 / 5 (2) Jul 25, 2008
According to one survey, Dewey was a President...
Surveys are tricky, the wording of questions and answers can tilt the result very easily.
DoctorKnowledge
2.5 / 5 (2) Jul 27, 2008
Yes, GrayMouser, that's certainly the case.

In this situation, though, it might be possible to see a cause-and-effect relationship. A nation with limited expectations to "play on the world stage" might spend more time worrying about basics: farming, fishing, logging. It doesn't take a sophisticted, unbiased study to convince fishermen in many countries that their jobs are at risk because of low yields. I.e., there are going to be situations where the populations of poorer countries see differently, and sometimes, perhaps, more clearly.

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