Environmental Concern in China: A Multilevel Analysis

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Existing cross-national studies have identified that country-level economic and environmental factors can affect environmental concern at the individual-level. However, we know little in regard to how these contextual factors and their interaction with individual-level factors shape environmental concern within countries. Using China as an example, we examine three hypotheses: the affluence hypothesis, the degradation hypothesis, and the need contingency hypothesis. We measure environmental concern in three dimensions using twelve indicators. The latent mean comparison and multilevel structural equation modeling results show that provincial economic development and environmental degradation as well as their interactions with individual social-economic status have significant impacts on one’s environmental concern. Such impacts vary by the dimension of environmental concern. People from provinces with better economic conditions generally have higher environmental concern, especially for the perceived dangerousness of pollution and environmental behavior dimensions. The degradation hypothesis receives mixed support that depends on the measure of environmental degradation. Theoretical and methodological contributions as well as policy implications are discussed.

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Chinese Sociological Review, v. 52, issue 1, p. 1-26