Environmental Concern in Cross-National Perspective: The Effects of Affluence, Environmental Degradation, and World Society*


Direct correspondence to Kyle Knight, Department of Sociology, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-4020 <kylewknight@gmail.com>. The authors are glad to share all data and coding with those who wish to replicate the study. The authors thank James F. Short, Jr. for his feedback and support, and the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments.



This study assesses competing macro-level explanations of national-level environmental concern. Drawing on previous research, we test the effects of national affluence, environmental degradation, and world society integration on various dimensions of environmental concern.


We utilize factor analysis to separate distinct dimensions of concern. Then, we estimate bivariate correlations using data from the latest (fifth) wave of the World Values Survey (WVS) and a multivariate panel regression model using data from four WVS waves (1990–2008).


Bivariate correlations reveal inconsistent relationships across the various dimensions of environmental concern. The panel analysis suggests that environmental degradation is positively associated with environmental concern expressed as willingness to pay higher taxes, affluence is either negatively or not associated, and international nongovernmental organizations are not significantly associated.


Environmental conditions significantly influence levels of environmental concern around the world. It should not be assumed that affluence is the determining factor in global environmental concern.