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What do Canadians think about economic growth, prosperity and the environment?


  • Tomaselli, Maria Fernanda
  • Sheppard, Stephen R.J.
  • Kozak, Robert
  • Gifford, Robert


This study examines public opinions about economic growth, prosperity and the environment, and segments the sample based on some of these attitudes. A sample of 1001 Canadians participated in an online survey in January 2016. Data shows that economic growth is received with positive reactions, although very few participants strongly agreed with the notion of ‘growth at all costs’. Moreover, many were unsure about the balance of benefits and costs of growth. A vast majority of the respondents agreed with reducing consumption, pointing to a potentially high level of support for post-growth tenets and other post-materialistic proposals. Three distinct segments were identified using Latent Class Analysis (LCA). The Assured (41.1%) expressed optimism towards technology and indefinite economic growth. The Ambivalent (36.3%) did not express strong opinions about any issue. The Concerned (22.6%) acknowledged human unsustainability, expressed higher environmental concern and did not believe in indefinite growth. Demographic factors (e.g., gender, political identification) correlated significantly with the clusters, and members of the Concerned reported a higher likelihood to vote for a politician who does not pursue economic growth as a main policy goal. The findings of this study question the assumed ‘social consensus’ around growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Tomaselli, Maria Fernanda & Sheppard, Stephen R.J. & Kozak, Robert & Gifford, Robert, 2019. "What do Canadians think about economic growth, prosperity and the environment?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 161(C), pages 41-49.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:161:y:2019:i:c:p:41-49
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2019.03.007

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    References listed on IDEAS

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