This paper investigates the hypothesis that individual environmental attitudes are partly determined by a cultural component. Our analysis tackles this issue both theoretically and empirically. In the theoretical section of the paper, we describe a model of intergenerational transmission of cultural traits. In the empirical section, we use survey data from the European Values Study, to empirically identify this cultural component in environmental attitudes. We use a comparative approach that exploits variations associated with European migration flows. Our findings suggest that culture has a persistent and statistically significant impact on the environmental values of migrants: differences in environmental attitudes among migrants can be traced back to social values that persist in their countries of origin. We also show that environmental attitudes are resilient to incentives derived from the external environment: environmental conditions migrants have been exposed to in their countries of origin do not have a significant impact on their preferences when living in the host country. Our empirical findings are robust to a number of alternative assumptions and present interesting dimensions of heterogeneity concerning the cultural transmission process. These results imply that in the presence of multiple environmental problems that require collective action, comprehending the driving forces behind the formation of an environmental culture is critical to effective policy formation.
- cultural transmission,
- environmental values