Although past findings are inconclusive, there is evidence of a negative relationship between wealth—at the household and country level—and climate change concern. One explanation for this relationship is that wealth provides a buffer against the risks of climate change, leading people in wealthy countries or wealthy households to perceive a greater sense of control over climate change impacts which in turn results in lower levels of concern. We tested this hypothesis with data sourced from the OECD Environment Directorate which conducted a detailed household survey in 2011 of 11 OECD countries (N=10,162). Our results accord with past studies showing a significant negative relationship between country and household wealth and individuals’ perceptions of the seriousness of climate change. Moreover, our findings suggest that this relationship is mediated through sense of control, measured at the country level by the readiness index and at the household level by the extent of adoption of energy efficiency improvements. These findings raise the question of how best to incentivise action on climate change amongst those with the ability - but not necessarily the motivation - to respond.
climate change concern; wealth; control; country wealth; household wealth.;
Kelly Fielding, Céline Nauges, and Sarah Ann Wheeler, “The relationship between country and individual household wealth and climate change concern: The mediating role of control”, TSE Working Paper, n. 20-1086, April 2020.
TSE Working Paper, n. 20-1086, April 2020