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Individualism and climate change policies: International evidence

Vu, Trung V. (2020): Individualism and climate change policies: International evidence.

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This paper examines the extent to which the cultural dimension of individualism-collectivism matters for the stringency of climate change policies across the world. I postulate that individualistic societies are endowed with a better capacity to implement stringent climate change regulations compared with their collectivistic counterparts. This notion is tested using data for a world sample of up to 92 countries. To achieve causal inference, I isolate exogenous sources of variation in individualistic cultures, based on blood distance to the UK and historical pathogen prevalence. The results lend strong empirical support to my propositions. I also find evidence that individualism exerts a positive influence on the stringency of climate change policies through enhancing the quality of governance and female political presentation. To account for unobserved country-specific factors, I perform subnational analyses using data from the World Values Survey. The results indicate that survey participants with an orientation towards individualistic cultures tend to self-report positive attitudes to pro-environmental policies, which is consistent with the international evidence.

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