Towards Greener Pastures

Working paper

05-09-11 |

Understanding how we can meet our present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs is essential in matters sustainable development. The UN's aim to tackle sustainable development is to treat economic, social and environmental aspects in an integrated way. Little is known, however, empirically, about the nature of individual preferences towards these tradeoffs. This paper therefore studies individual preferences towards the environment, social wellbeing and financial wellbeing, or as is commonly denoted, people, planet and profits. We contribute to the literature by surveying over 1400 households and their preferences towards living in a society which strives to reduce carbon emissions rather than striving for financial wellbeing or to improve social welfare. We take into account individual household characteristics and find that gender, education, age, as well as home ownership and work status are significantly important variables in determining attitudes towards sustainable values. Our research highlights the importance of gender to sustainability. The results have serious implications for policy making. We find empirical support for the anecdotal evidence that gender parity will help towards good governance in achieving political policy towards the goal of sustainable development.

Author(s)

Rachel Pownall

ECCE Research Fellow

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Maastricht University