Does the state of the economy condition public concern for the environment? Scholars have long argued that environmental preferences decline during economic downturns as individuals prioritize short-term economic needs over longer-term environmental concerns. Yet, this assumption has rarely been subjected to rigorous empirical scrutiny at the individual level. The presumed link between economic and environmental preferences is revisited, using the first individual-level opinion panel (n = 1043) of US climate attitudes, incorporating both self-reported and objective economic data. In contrast with prior studies that emphasize the role of economic downturns in driving environmental preference shifts, using a stronger identification strategy, there is little evidence that changes in either individual economic fortunes or local economic conditions are associated with decreased belief that climate change is happening or reduced prioritization of climate policy action. Instead, the evidence suggests that climate belief declines are associated with shifting political cues. These findings have important implications for understanding the dynamics of political conflict over environmental policy globally.
; Mildenberger, M
(2017). Public opinion on climate change: Is there an economy–environment tradeoff? Environmental Politics
26 (5), 801-824.