The Effect of Economic Affluence and Ecological Degradation on Chinese Environmental Concern: A Multilevel Analysis

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Environmental concern in China, Ecological degradation, Economic affluence, Factor analysis, Regression

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Despite being the world’s second largest economy and the single largest producer of carbon dioxide, few studies have analyzed the nature of the Chinese general public’s concern over environmental quality. This paper engages in the longstanding discussion of the postmaterialist values theory and the objective problems subjective values (OPSV) theory that might explain that concern. Specifically, I assess the impacts of economic affluence and ecologic degradation on the likelihood of environmental concern for over 3,000 individuals across 26 provinces in China. I initially use principal component factor analysis to identify three distinct dimensions of general environmental concern. I then employ correlation and regression methods to analyze the associations between these aspects of environmental concern and potential explanatory variables. Individual-level analysis and provincial-level analysis indicate that ecological degradation and economic affluence influence one’s overall environmental concern. By using empirical evidence in China to test theoretical frameworks that were originally proposed in the Western world, this paper contributes to the ongoing study of environmental concern. In addition, the formation of public environmental concern can serve as an important prerequisite to initiate collective protests and promote policy changes to improve the deteriorating environment.

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Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, v. 4 p. 123-131