Environmental Concern: A Global Perspective

  • Andreas DiekmannEmail author
  • Axel Franzen


Measurement and early exploration of the determinants of environmental concern was pioneered by Dieter Urban. Here, we focus primarily on the relation between the wealth of nations and environmental concern. Based on survey data environmental sociologists assert that citizens in poor countries exhibit a larger degree of environmental concern than citizens in wealthy countries. However, a detailed analysis points to an interaction effect with different dimensions of environmental concern. While there is evidence for a negative correlation between per capita GNP and environmental awareness of local ecological problems, environmental concern with global problems is positively correlated with nations‘ wealth. Environmental concern is important for legitimizing institutions but has only a modest effect on individual behavior. Institutional regulations such as the implementation of an ecological tax regime or emission certificates could change behavior by discouraging environmentally harmful consumption and rewarding ecologically friendly behavior. However, institutions will not be effective without acceptance by citizens and, at least in democratic societies, change in laws and institutions requires the political will of the voters. In this regard, citizens’ environmental concern plays a central role in determining environmental behavior.


Global environmental concern International Social Survey Health of Planet Survey dimensions of environmental concern income and environmental awareness rating and ranking questions 


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© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, ein Teil von Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.BerlinDeutschland
  2. 2.BernSchweiz

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