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Title: The effects of economic conditions on support for environmental protection
Author: Kenny, John
ISNI:       0000 0004 7971 7214
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis highlights the ways in which economic conditions affect support for environmental protection. The coincidence of a decrease in environmental attitudes and increase in climate scepticism with the Great Recession of 2008 had suggested that deteriorating economic conditions could have a negative effect on environmental attitudes. While previous literature has largely supported this, it has been limited in its ability to firmly establish the causal mechanisms at work. The analysis contained in this thesis makes a number of important advances. Using cross-national data from before and after the onset of the economic crisis, I demonstrate that changing prioritisation of environmental protection is particularly sensitive to changes in unemployment rates and that its connection with changing economic growth would appear to be spurious. Through an innovative online survey experiment, I show that the salience of individuals' economic perceptions has an independent effect on their prioritisation of taking urgent action to tackle climate change - with those who are reminded of their positive economic perceptions being more likely to prioritise such action and vice versa for those who are reminded of their negative economic perceptions - but that it has no such effect on their belief in anthropogenic climate change. However, analysis of New Zealand panel data suggests that changes in economic perceptions and individuals' household financial situation cannot explain the decline in environmental attitudes witnessed in 2008. I make a substantive methodological contribution by establishing that environmental-economic trade-off questions primarily capture environmental rather than economic attitudes. Finally, I demonstrate that environmental attitudes can have tangible effects on support for policies that are environmentally beneficial when such policies are not being primarily framed through an environmental lens using the case study of support for water charges in Ireland in 2011.
Supervisor: Fisher, Stephen Sponsor: ESRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Political sociology ; Environmental politics ; Economic Conditions ; Public opinion