Social relationships, public media, and pro-environmental behaviors

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We explore the heterogeneity of pro-environmental behaviors embedded in social contexts from the perspectives of both social relationships and public media. Using new data from a Chinese nationally representative sample, we employ latent cluster models to identify patterns in social relationships and public media. Then we examine how differences across patterns of social relationships and public media correlate with differences in the likelihood that people take pro-environmental actions. Our results show that individuals with more exposure to green social contexts are more likely to take pro-environmental actions and, in particular, that public media plays a more important role than social relationships. The finding implies that developing countries can use public media to promote public participation in environmental protection.

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  1. 1.

    The Old Summer Palace Hearing was held by the Chinese National Environmental Protection Administration (NEPA) to address the bottom anti-seepage project for the Old Summer Palace in Beijing on April 13, 2005. It was China’s first environmental hearing and is viewed as the start of public participation in environmental protection in China. The Amendment of the Environmental Protection Law stipulated the principle of public participation in January, 2005; and the No. 35 NEPA Decree published in July aimed to better facilitate public participation in environmental protection.


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The authors gratefully acknowledge the very helpful comments and suggestions given by two anonymous referees. This work is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Numbers: 71322305, 71774107, 71632007, 71690241, 71421002).

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Correspondence to Haitao Yin.



See Tables 10 and 11.

Table 10 Indicator of social relationship (N = 11,161)
Table 11 Indicator of public media (N = 11,161)

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Zhou, H., Yin, H., Yuan, F. et al. Social relationships, public media, and pro-environmental behaviors. Empir Econ 57, 569–588 (2019).

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  • Pro-environmental behaviors
  • Social context
  • Social relationships
  • Public media
  • Latent cluster models

JEL Classification

  • D19
  • Q59