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Cross-National Gender Variation in Environmental Behaviors


  • *Direct correspondence to Lori M. Hunter, Program on Environment and Behavior, Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado at Boulder, CB 468, Boulder, CO 80309 〈〉. All data and coding information are available from the lead author. We wish to acknowledge Jani Little from the Center for Computing and Research Services, Institute of Behavioral Science at the University of Colorado for providing access to the International Social Survey. We also acknowledge Rick Rogers, Justin Denney, and Laura Mathews for their helpful comments and critiques.


Objective. This article presents a cross-national examination of gender variations in environmental behaviors. Research on environmental concern reveals modest distinctions between men and women, with women typically displaying higher levels of environmental concern and behavioral adjustments relative to men. Additionally, some prior research suggests that women appear more engaged in household-oriented (private) pro-environment behaviors (e.g., recycling), and men in community/society-oriented (public) pro-environment behaviors (e.g., protests). The analysis provided here offers an important extension to existing research through its cross-cultural, comparative perspective.

Method. We make use of the 1993 International Social Survey to explore gender differences in “private” and “public” environmentally-oriented behaviors across 22 nations.

Results. It is shown that women tend to engage in more environmental behaviors than men in many nations, particularly private behaviors. In addition, both women and men tend to engage in relatively more private environmental behaviors as opposed to public ones.

Conclusion. The cross-national analysis provides support for gender distinctions with regard to some environmental behaviors within most of the incorporated 22 national contexts. Gender differences in level of private environmental behaviors tend to be more consistent within nations at the upper end of the wealth distribution.