Milfont, T. L., Zubielevitch, E., Milojev, P., & Sibley, C. G. (2021). Ten-year panel data confirm generation gap but climate beliefs increase at similar rates across ages. Nat Commun, 12(1), 4038. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-24245-y
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/14516
Accumulating evidence indicates that climate change awareness and concern has increased globally, but commentators suggest a climate change generation gap whereby younger people care more about climate change than older people. Here we use a decade of panel data from 56,513 New Zealanders to test whether belief that "Climate change is real" and "Climate change is caused by humans" increased over the 2009-2018 period; and whether changes are uniform across 12 five-year birth cohorts spanning those born from 1936 to 1995. Results confirm a generation gap in mean (intercept) climate change beliefs but not in over-time increase (slope). The generation gap occurs because older cohorts started from a lower initial belief level (circa 2009), but all age cohorts increased their belief level at a similar rate over the last decade; and these results were not qualified by respondents' gender. The findings offer hope for collective action that bridges efforts across generations.
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