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Transnational Diffusion of Environmental Preferences: The Roles of Similarity and Proximity


  • Heinz Welsch

    (University of Oldenburg; ZenTra - Center for Transnational Studies)

  • Jan Kühling

    (University of Oldenburg; ZenTra - Center for Transnational Studies)


This paper uses data for more than 260,000 individuals in 34 European countries, 2002-2013, to study how nations’ socio-demographic, economic, and environmental similarity and geographic, institutional, cultural and economic proximity affect the transnational diffusion of environment-related preferences. We measure environmental preferences by the importance people attach to environmental preservation (environmentalism) and to wealth and possession (materialism). We find that nations’ environmental preferences differ less if nations are more similar in terms of their socio-demographic, economic, and environmental conditions, and more proximate in terms of geography, common institutions and culture, and intensity of trade relations. The importance of the various dimensions of similarity and proximity differs between environmentalism and materialism. In particular, greater institutional proximity (EU membership) is associated with greater similarity in environmentalism, whereas greater cultural proximity (belonging to the Nordic, Western, Eastern, and Mediterranean region) is associated with greater similarity in materialism. The intensities of watching entertainment TV and information TV affect environmentalism and materialism differently.

Suggested Citation

  • Heinz Welsch & Jan Kühling, 2016. "Transnational Diffusion of Environmental Preferences: The Roles of Similarity and Proximity," ZenTra Working Papers in Transnational Studies 64 / 2016, ZenTra - Center for Transnational Studies, revised Mar 2016.
  • Handle: RePEc:zen:wpaper:64

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    More about this item


    preference diffusion; environmentalism; materialism; similarity; economic proximity;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • Q51 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Valuation of Environmental Effects
    • Z31 - Other Special Topics - - Tourism Economics - - - Industry Studies

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