With four decades of rapid growth, the extensive model of economic growth has led to severe damage to the ecological environment. Ecological environment quality has become a prominent shortcoming on building moderately prosperous society. With the increasingly urgent need for environmental quality, public participation in environmental protection has become an important fulcrum to propel environmental protection into a higher and deeper level. In the face of increasingly severe environmental pollution, how does the public make environmental behavior decisions? Does pollution exposure trigger changes in collective environmental cognition and behavior? Obviously, answering these questions is of great practical significance in promoting positive public environmental actions and forming the joint force of the government, the enterprise and the public in environmental governance. Using CGSS （2013） matched with city level data, this paper investigates the effects of environmental pollution on public environmental concern from three aspects: the attention on environmental problems, environmental actions and evaluation for the environmental work of the government. The study firstly finds that pollution drives the public to care about the environmental problems, take individual environmental actions actively, and induce public dissatisfaction with the government’s environment protection, but pollution has no significant influence on deeper public environment actions. Secondly, the environmental concern of different social groups presents differentiation characteristics. High income groups, men and urban residents have shown higher enthusiasm in taking individual environmental actions, and urban residents are more discontented with the government. Thirdly, the effects of environmental pollution on environmental concern have reflected ladder-like differences between people in different regions, that is, the residents in the mid-west area concern more about environmental problems and like to take active private environmental actions, while the residents in the eastern region like to take deeper public environmental actions. Further research shows that the better the economic situation is, the more the low income group concerns about environmental problems, but the better employment situation can ease the public dissatisfaction with the government. Compared with the existing literature, the marginal contributions of this paper mainly reflect in the following aspects. Firstly, most existing studies focus on the social basis of environmental behavior from the fields of psychology and sociology, while ignoring the impact of macro environment and economic factors on individual environmental behaviors. Our work is helpful for us to understand the overall mechanism and the trend of public environmental decision-making. Secondly, this study compares the impact of environmental pollution on different types of environmental concern, ranging from shallow environmental concern to deep environmental actions. The heterogeneity of environmental concern in different social groups is also examined in our study. These give us more comprehensive interpretation of the relationship between environmental pollution and environmental concern. Thirdly, this paper sorts out the theoretical mechanism of environmental pollution affecting residents’ environmental concern, and puts forward the personal decision-making mechanism from environmental attitudes to environmental actions, which provides a foundation for further theoretical analyses and interpretations. The research of this paper has strong political implications. Environmental pollution causes public concern about the collective rationality of environmental problems, but such collective rationality is hard to form in practical actions. Therefore, the government should guide and support the public to participate in positive environmental protection, refine the market and institute system for public participation in positive environmental protection, reduce the cost of public participation in environmental protection, and improve the acquisition of public participation in environmental protection.
Does Environmental Pollution Provoke Public Environmental Concern?
Journal of Finance and Economics Vol. 44, Issue 11, pp. 106 - 124 (2018) DOI:10.16538/j.cnki.jfe.2018.11.008
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Cite this article
Wang Yong, Hao Cuihong, Shi Meicheng. Does Environmental Pollution Provoke Public Environmental Concern?[J]. Journal of Finance and Economics, 2018, 44(11): 106-124.
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