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Why do people accept environmental policies? The prospects of higher education and changes in norms, beliefs and policy preferences.

Journal article
Authors Niklas Harring
Sverker C. Jagers
Published in Environmental Education Research
Volume 24
Issue 6
Pages 791-806
ISSN 1350-4622
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Political Science
Pages 791-806
Language en
Keywords Environmental policy, higher education, policy acceptance, panel data
Subject categories Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)


Pressing problems of environmental degradation are typically argued to require coordination, primarily through state intervention. Social scientists are struggling to understand how attitudes toward such state interventions are formed, and several drivers have been suggested, including education. People with university degrees are assumed to have certain values as well as the analytical skills to understand complex issues such as climate change. By using a unique panel data-set with students in different university programs (economics, law and political science), this study provides a better understanding of whether and how education affects environmental policy acceptance. One important finding is that university studies generate variation in support and scepticism toward different types of policy measures. For example, economics students tend to develop more positive attitudes toward market-based policy measures. This indicates a potential for education to increase the societal support often hindering the implementation of such policy tools.

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