WORLD-WIDE COMPARISONS ON THE RELATIONSHIPS AMONG ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERN
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This dissertation includes four journal-length articles with an introductory chapter. Two articles have been published in referred journals, Perspectives on Global Development and Technology and Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences. The other two manuscripts have been revised and resubmitted at the request of the editors, to two other journals, Society & Natural Resources and Social Science Quarterly. The first study examines the interaction between economy, trade, and environment for 95 countries between 1980 and 2009. Findings show that economic intensity has declined markedly for decades while the total material extraction continues to increase worldwide. Positive associations (mediated by global trade of materials) exist between material extraction from developing countries and material consumption in developed countries. The second study assesses environmental concerns of the Chinese general public. I analyze impact of economic affluence and ecologic degradation on the likelihood of environmental concern for over 3,000 individuals across 26 provinces in China. Individual-level analysis and provincial-level analysis indicate that ecological degradation and economic affluence influence one's overall environmental concern. The third study compares public environmental concern in China and the United States by analyzing data from two national surveys, each of which was conducted in 2010. Macro-level analysis shows that a higher percentage of Chinese respondents perceive the danger of multiple anthropogenic practices and a higher percentage of American respondents took actions to protect the environment. The results of structural equation modeling reveal different patterns of connections between post-materialist values, income, class, and environmental concern for respondents at the micro-level. The fourth study evaluates the extent to which economic affluence, ecological degradation, integration into the world polity, and economic globalization each contributes to the change in environmental concern in 82 countries across 7 years. Findings reveal that the exposure to ecological degradation is positively related with the growing environmental concern, whereas economic affluence has a negative association. In addition, integration into the world polity does not affect environmental concern and the two indicators of economic globalization have mixed impact. Overall, from multiple analytical levels, the four studies explore the social factors that drive both environmental degradation and advances toward environmental reform.