Environmental Concern in the United States and China: The Influence of Measurement in National Context

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environmental concern, China and the United States, structural equation modeling

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We compare environmental concern between people in the United States and China by analyzing two General Social Surveys carried out in 2010. The two surveys have the same questions about the environment that have been answered by national probability samples of respondents from each country. This study serves as a starting point to understand variation in environmental concern between these two countries that have major global environmental impacts. Our hypotheses draw on the measurement hypothesis and the theory of planned behavior. We found the Chinese report higher environmental concern when measured as environmental sacrifice and perceived dangerousness, whereas the Americans reported a greater frequency of pro-environmental behaviors. Results from structural equation modeling show that the connections between sociodemographic predictors and environmental concern vary depending on the dimension of environmental concern being examined. We discuss these findings in the context of existing literature and factors unique to each country.

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Social Currents, v. 5, issue 5, p. 479-493