The Reverse Environmental Gender Gap in China: Evidence from “The China Survey”*


  • The authors will share all data and coding with those wishing to replicate the study.

Direct correspondence to Todd G. Shields, Department of Political Science, University of Arkansas, 428 Old Main, Fayetteville, AR 72701 〈



This article explores gender differences in attitudes about the seriousness of the environment as a problem in China using the “2008 China Survey.”


We use generalized ordered logit models to analyze survey respondents’ environmental attitudes.


Our results indicate that there is indeed a “gender gap” in environmental attitudes in China, but the pattern is reversed from what has been generally found in previous work conducted in the United States and Europe. Chinese men, not women, show a greater concern about environmental problems and the seriousness of the environmental degradation in China. Further, we find that this gender gap is based largely in the substantial economic and educational differences between men and women in contemporary China.


This study emphasizes the mediating influence of socioeconomic variables in explaining gender attitudes toward the environment in China. Our findings suggest that in different contexts, women may be faced with difficult decisions between immediate economic necessities and long-term environmental concerns. The observed environmental gender gap in China will likely persist unless further economic development results in improved access to education and economic conditions for Chinese women.