How Much Do People Value Future Generations? Climate Change, Trust, and Public Support for Future-Oriented Policies

Creator/Principal investigator(s)

Malcolm Fairbrother - Institute for Futures Studies orcid

Description

Do people care about future generations? Moral philosophers say we should, but it is unclear whether laypeople agree. In particular, humanity’s inadequate efforts to mitigate climate change could be due to public indifference or heavy discounting of future generations’ well-being. Using surveys and survey experiments in four countries—Sweden, Spain, South Korea, and China—we found that most people say they care about future generations, and would be willing to reduce their standard of living so that people can enjoy better lives in the future. However, not everyone who says they care supports two public actions that could be taken for the benefit of future generations: policies to reduce either global warming or national debt. We find evidence that much of people’s apparent lack of concern for future generations is actually due to distrust of major social institutions, and associated doubts about the effectiveness of future-oriented policies.

Subject area

Energy and natural resources, Political behaviour and attitudes, Government, political systems and organisations, Elites and leadership, Social behaviour and attitudes (CESSDA Topic Classification)
Climate Research, Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology), Philosophy, Ethics (The Swedish standard of fields of research 2011)

Responsible department/unit

Institute for Future Studies, Institute for Futures Studies

Creator/Principal investigator(s)

Malcolm Fairbrother - Institute for Futures Studies orcid

Identifiers

SND-ID: 2020-130

Description

Do people care about future generations? Moral philosophers say we should, but it is unclear whether laypeople agree. In particular, humanity’s inadequate efforts to mitigate climate change could be due to public indifference or heavy discounting of future generations’ well-being. Using surveys and survey experiments in four countries—Sweden, Spain, South Korea, and China—we found that most people say they care about future generations, and would be willing to reduce their standard of living so that people can enjoy better lives in the future. However, not everyone who says they care supports two public actions that could be taken for the benefit of future generations: policies to reduce either global warming or national debt. We find evidence that much of people’s apparent lack of concern for future generations is actually due to distrust of major social institutions, and associated doubts about the effectiveness of future-oriented policies.

Language

English

Time period(s) investigated

2019 — 2019

Geographic spread

Unit of analysis

Population

Adults in Sweden (age range 16-65), Spain (age range 16-65), South Korea (age range 18-54) and China (age range 18-50)

Time Method

Sampling procedure

Mixed probability and non-probability

Funding

The Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences — Ref. M17-0372:1

Subject area

Energy and natural resources, Political behaviour and attitudes, Government, political systems and organisations, Elites and leadership, Social behaviour and attitudes (CESSDA Topic Classification)
Climate Research, Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology), Philosophy, Ethics (The Swedish standard of fields of research 2011)

Contact for questions about the data

Malcolm Fairbrother

Associated documentation

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Version 1

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Dataset 1

How Much Do People Value Future Generations? Climate Change, Trust, and Public Support for Future-Oriented Policies - Data from Sweden

Suggested citation

Malcolm Fairbrother. Institute for Future Studies, Institute for Futures Studies (2020). <em>How Much Do People Value Future Generations? Climate Change, Trust, and Public Support for Future-Oriented Policies - Data from Sweden</em>. Swedish National Data Service. Version 1. <a href="https://doi.org/10.5878/abr0-ba73">https://doi.org/10.5878/abr0-ba73</a>

Creator/Principal investigator(s)

Malcolm Fairbrother - Institute for Futures Studies orcid

Data format / data structure

Numeric

Text

Data collection

Mode of collection: Self-administered questionnaire

Time period(s) for data collection: 2019 — 2019

Source of the data: Research data

Version 1

Download data

Dataset 2

How Much Do People Value Future Generations? Climate Change, Trust, and Public Support for Future-Oriented Policies - Data from Spain

Suggested citation

Malcolm Fairbrother. Institute for Future Studies, Institute for Futures Studies (2020). <em>How Much Do People Value Future Generations? Climate Change, Trust, and Public Support for Future-Oriented Policies - Data from Spain</em>. Swedish National Data Service. Version 1. <a href="https://doi.org/10.5878/4dbq-5253">https://doi.org/10.5878/4dbq-5253</a>

Creator/Principal investigator(s)

Malcolm Fairbrother - Institute for Futures Studies orcid

Data format / data structure

Numeric

Text

Data collection

Mode of collection: Self-administered questionnaire

Time period(s) for data collection: 2019 — 2019

Source of the data: Research data

Version 1

Download data

Dataset 3

How Much Do People Value Future Generations? Climate Change, Trust, and Public Support for Future-Oriented Policies - Data from China

Suggested citation

Malcolm Fairbrother. Institute for Future Studies, Institute for Futures Studies (2020). <em>How Much Do People Value Future Generations? Climate Change, Trust, and Public Support for Future-Oriented Policies - Data from China</em>. Swedish National Data Service. Version 1. <a href="https://doi.org/10.5878/ge21-mz09">https://doi.org/10.5878/ge21-mz09</a>

Creator/Principal investigator(s)

Malcolm Fairbrother - Institute for Futures Studies orcid

Data format / data structure

Numeric

Text

Data collection

Mode of collection: Self-administered questionnaire

Time period(s) for data collection: 2019 — 2019

Source of the data: Research data

Version 1

Download data

Dataset 4

How Much Do People Value Future Generations? Climate Change, Trust, and Public Support for Future-Oriented Policies - Data from South Korea

Suggested citation

Malcolm Fairbrother. Institute for Future Studies, Institute for Futures Studies (2020). <em>How Much Do People Value Future Generations? Climate Change, Trust, and Public Support for Future-Oriented Policies - Data from South Korea</em>. Swedish National Data Service. Version 1. <a href="https://doi.org/10.5878/8d7f-9q31">https://doi.org/10.5878/8d7f-9q31</a>

Creator/Principal investigator(s)

Malcolm Fairbrother - Institute for Futures Studies orcid

Data format / data structure

Numeric

Text

Data collection

Mode of collection: Self-administered questionnaire

Time period(s) for data collection: 2019 — 2019

Source of the data: Research data

Published: 2020-12-10