The impact of parenthood on environmental attitudes and behaviour: a longitudinal investigation of the legacy hypothesis

The impact of parenthood on environmental attitudes and behaviour: a longitudinal investigation... Willingness to engage in sustainable actions may be limited by the psychological distance of climate change. In this study, we test the legacy hypothesis, which holds that having children leads parents to consider the legacy left to offspring in respect of environmental quality. Using the Understanding Society dataset, a longitudinal survey representative of the UK population (n = 18,176), we assess how having children may change people’s individual environmental attitudes and behaviour. Results indicate that having a new child is associated with a small decrease in the frequency of a few environmental behaviours. Only parents with already high environmental concern show a small increase in the desire to act more sustainably after the birth of their first child. Overall, the results do not provide evidence in support of the legacy hypothesis in terms of individual-level environmental attitudes and behaviours. We argue that the transition to parenthood is a time where concern is prioritised on the immediate wellbeing of the child and not on the future environmental threats. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Population and Environment Springer Journals

The impact of parenthood on environmental attitudes and behaviour: a longitudinal investigation of the legacy hypothesis

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Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Copyright
Copyright © 2017 by The Author(s)
Subject
Social Sciences; Demography; Environment, general; Population Economics; Public Health; Sociology, general
ISSN
0199-0039
eISSN
1573-7810
D.O.I.
10.1007/s11111-017-0291-1
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Willingness to engage in sustainable actions may be limited by the psychological distance of climate change. In this study, we test the legacy hypothesis, which holds that having children leads parents to consider the legacy left to offspring in respect of environmental quality. Using the Understanding Society dataset, a longitudinal survey representative of the UK population (n = 18,176), we assess how having children may change people’s individual environmental attitudes and behaviour. Results indicate that having a new child is associated with a small decrease in the frequency of a few environmental behaviours. Only parents with already high environmental concern show a small increase in the desire to act more sustainably after the birth of their first child. Overall, the results do not provide evidence in support of the legacy hypothesis in terms of individual-level environmental attitudes and behaviours. We argue that the transition to parenthood is a time where concern is prioritised on the immediate wellbeing of the child and not on the future environmental threats.

Journal

Population and EnvironmentSpringer Journals

Published: Dec 18, 2017

References

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