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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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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. repec:kap:jbioec:v:19:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s10818-016-9231-x is not listed on IDEAS
    3. 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.
    4. Hadjikakou, Michalis, 2017. "Trimming the excess: environmental impacts of discretionary food consumption in Australia," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 119-128.
    5. repec:kap:jbioec:v:19:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s10818-016-9238-3 is not listed on IDEAS
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    7. repec:eee:ecolec:v:146:y:2018:i:c:p:290-303 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Discretionary time; Value–action gap; Sustainable consumption practices;

    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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