Climatic Change

, Volume 152, Issue 1, pp 17–34 | Cite as

Anomalous Anglophones? Contours of free market ideology, political polarization, and climate change attitudes in English-speaking countries, Western European and post-Communist states

  • E. Keith SmithEmail author
  • Adam Mayer


Recent scholarship has thoroughly documented climate change attitudes within the majority of the English-speaking countries of the USA, the UK, Canada, and Australia. In these nations, political identity is widely recognized as a uniquely powerful predictor of climate change attitudes and, at least in the USA, several studies have found that education moderates the effect of political identity. The cross-national dynamics of climate change attitudes and political identity are not well-characterized, particularly in nations with a history of state socialism. In this manuscript, we consider the role of political and free market ideological polarization around climate change within Anglophone, Western European, and post-Communist states. Further, we investigate education as a moderator of political and ideological factors cross-nationally. We suggest that, in comparison to Western European and post-Communist states, the role of political and ideological polarization in Anglophone states is exceptional in shaping climate change attitudes. Using data for 20 countries in the 2010 ISSP Environmental Module, we find that the effect of party affiliation and free market ideology on the perception of climate change’s danger and importance is strongest in Anglophone states, more modest in Western European countries, and limited within post-Communist states. Further, education moderates most intensely in Anglophone states. Our results suggest that there is something exceptional occurring within Anglophone states with regard to political polarization and climate change attitudes.



This project was partly financially supported by the Leibniz Association (SAW-2017-PIK-4). We are grateful for the valuable comments and suggestions of the editor and the anonymous reviewers.

Supplementary material

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ESM 1 (DOCX 64 kb)
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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.GESIS Leibniz-Institut for the Social SciencesCologneGermany
  2. 2.Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, Colorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA

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