Inderscience Publishers

Micro-foundations of the Environmental Kuznets Curve hypothesis: an empirical analysis

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The Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) hypothesis argues for an inverted-U shaped relationship between economic development and environmental quality. Although this relation has been mainly enquired at the macro-economic level, it is actually resting on the assumption of a number of changes in the attitudes and behaviours of high-income country citizens. This paper looks for empirical evidence underneath this assumption using international social survey data. However, our results show that environmental attitudes and behaviours are only weakly related to national income. Moreover, even if the environmental concern tends to increase with GDP, this trend does not clearly translate either in actual greener behaviours or in high levels of political pro-environment activism. As a whole, our results cast some doubts on the empirical consistency of the micro-level assumptions behind the EKC hypothesis.

Keywords: Environmental Kuznets Curve, EKC, environmental concern, moral values, social survey data, environmental quality, sustainable development, sustainability, economic development, national income, GDP, environmental attitudes, environmental behaviour

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