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The inhabitants’ dual interest preferences and their impact on pro-environmental behavior in China

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The land use changes and farmers’ unreasonable land use behaviors continue to threaten China’s agricultural land, exacerbating the impact of pollution. The factors that persuade farm households to perform pro-environmental actions are preliminary efforts to strengthen environmental protection. The current study aims to better understand how the dual interest preferences of rural households are interrelated and influence their environmental behavior. A structured questionnaire was employed to collect the primary data from 4 provinces in China to develop new methods to measure the dual interest preferences of farmers and to study their impact on pro-environmental behaviors. The structural equation model (SEM) in Stata14 was used to analyze the relationship between latent and observed variables and to understand their impact on farmers’ environmental behavior. The results showed that all the observed variables have the expected signs and have a significant relationship with their latent variables. With the coefficients of 0.76, 0.88, and 0.64, the underlying variables related to the households’ dual interest preferences are statistically significantly correlated. The coefficient 0.34 of the latent variable ensures a direct and significant impact on farm households’ pro-environmental behavior, suggesting that non-uniformity preferences or conflicts exist between the short- and long-term economic interests. Similarly, a positive and significant coefficient of 0.28 suggests the non-uniformity of preferences in short-term economic and social interests. All the fitness indices ensured that our model fits well. To improve the environment and land quality, the current research has policy implications for the adoption of environment-friendly pesticide and organic fertilizers.

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The authors would like to convey their thanks to the editorial team of this journal and the two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions that have helped in the considerable improvement of the manuscript.


The authors received funding support from the China Scholarship Council. The survey was sponsored by the project supported by the National Natural Social Science Foundation of China (No. 17BJY067).

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Correspondence to Hongdou Lei or Shiping Li.

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Lei, H., Khan, I. & Li, S. The inhabitants’ dual interest preferences and their impact on pro-environmental behavior in China. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-020-07760-1

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  • Agricultural ecosystems
  • Dual interest preferences
  • Dual interest theory
  • Land use quality
  • Pro-environmental behavior