Experience of economic hardship and right-wing political orientation hinder climate concern among European young people Articles uri icon

publication date

  • April 2022

start page

  • 1

end page

  • 22

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1478-2804

abstract

  • While there is extensive literature about public concern about climate change, most studies rely on cross-sectional static data. Based on a unique panel survey conducted in nine European countries in 2018 and 2019, we make a rare investigation of factors that explain why some young people (age 18-34) are, have become or have lost their concern about climate and environmental issues at times of widespread discussions about the climate emergency. The analysis tests arguments about the importance of individual-level factors such as values and political orientations and consider the role of cross-national variations, the experience of extreme weather events, and youth-led climate strikes. Our results support prior studies as we find that young people with libertarian rather than authoritarian values, with more positive views towards immigration and redistribution policies, tend to be more concerned about climate change and the environment. We find little effect of contextual factors. Young people who have experienced economic hardship and have a right-wing political orientation are less likely to become concerned for climate and environmental issues. Socio-economic conditions, values and political orientations are crucial to understanding climate concern among young Europeans, affecting youth climate engagement at times of increasing inequalities and polarization.

subjects

  • Sociology

keywords

  • young people/youth; climate change; european public opinion; left-right ideology; panel survey