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What time to adapt? The role of discretionary time in sustaining the climate change value–action gap

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  • Chai, Andreas
  • Bradley, Graham
  • Lo, Alex
  • Reser, Joseph

Abstract

The considerable gap between the individuals level of concern about climate change and the degree to which they act on these concerns is a major impediment to achieving more sustainable consumption patterns. We empirically investigate how the amount of discretionary time that individuals have at their disposal influences both what type of sustainable consumption practices they adopt and the size of this value–action gap. We contend that discretionary time has a twofold effect. Given fixed preferences, time-poor individuals tend to satisfy their preferences by adopting sustainable consumption practices that require relatively less time. Moreover, a lack of discretionary time also inhibits agents from developing preferences that actually reflect their underlying environmental concerns. Our findings support both of these hypotheses and suggest that increasing discretionary time is associated with significant reductions in the value–action gap. This suggest that policies which increase discretionary time, such as measures to improve the work–life balance, may thus help in fostering the emergence of pro-environmental preferences among consumers in the long run.

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  • Chai, Andreas & Bradley, Graham & Lo, Alex & Reser, Joseph, 2015. "What time to adapt? The role of discretionary time in sustaining the climate change value–action gap," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 95-107.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:116:y:2015:i:c:p:95-107
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2015.04.013
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    2. Binder, Martin & Blankenberg, Ann-Kathrin, 2016. "Environmental concerns, volunteering and subjective well-being: Antecedents and outcomes of environmental activism in Germany," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 1-16.
    3. Hadjikakou, Michalis, 2017. "Trimming the excess: environmental impacts of discretionary food consumption in Australia," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 119-128.
    4. Andreas Chai, 2017. "Interdisciplinary and evolutionary perspectives on managing the transition to a sustainable economy," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 19(1), pages 1-5, April.
    5. Hugo Hanbury & Christoph Bader & Stephanie Moser, 2019. "Reducing Working Hours as a Means to Foster Low(er)-Carbon Lifestyles? An Exploratory Study on Swiss Employees," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(7), pages 1-17, April.
    6. Nathalie Lazaric & Fabrice Guel & Jean Belin & Vanessa Oltra & Sébastien Lavaud & Ali Douai, 2020. "Determinants of sustainable consumption in France: the importance of social influence and environmental values," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 30(5), pages 1337-1366, November.
    7. Binder, Martin & Blankenberg, Ann-Kathrin, 2017. "Green lifestyles and subjective well-being: More about self-image than actual behavior?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 137(C), pages 304-323.
    8. Chad M. Baum & Christian Gross, 2017. "Sustainability policy as if people mattered: developing a framework for environmentally significant behavioral change," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 19(1), pages 53-95, April.
    9. Babutsidze, Zakaria & Chai, Andreas, 2018. "Look at me Saving the Planet! The Imitation of Visible Green Behavior and its Impact on the Climate Value-Action Gap," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 290-303.
    10. Benjamin Volland, 2018. "Après nous le déluge? Perceived distance of climate change impacts and pro-environmental behaviour," IRENE Working Papers 18-05, IRENE Institute of Economic Research.
    11. Shumin Liu & Gabriel Eweje & Qile He & Zhibin Lin, 2020. "Turning motivation into action: A strategic orientation model for green supply chain management," Business Strategy and the Environment, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(7), pages 2908-2918, November.

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    Keywords

    Discretionary time; Value–action gap; Sustainable consumption practices;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • Q50 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - General

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