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)

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
Vi genomförde vår studie i fyra länder med olika nivåer av politiskt förtroende: Sverige, Spanien, Sydkorea och Kina. Baserat på tidigare omröstningar och studier är institutionellt förtroende högt i Sverige och Kina och lågt i Spanien och Sydkorea. Vi valde också dessa fyra länder eftersom de spänner över två kulturellt distinkta världsregioner, och befolkningen i de fyra länderna är också kända för att ha olika nivåer av optimism om framtiden. Undersökningarna gjordes av det internationella företaget Ipsos MORI, med online-paneler för vuxna. Uppnådda N var: Sverige 1084 (spänner över åldersintervallet 16-65); Spanien 1298 (16-65); Sydkorea 1176 (18-54); och Kina 1165 (18-50). Eftersom de är online-paneler är proverna inte helt representativa för de nationella befolkningarna. I synnerhet det kinesiska urvalet innehåller oproportionerligt yngre, mer urbana och mer utbildade respondenter.

Data contains personal data

No

Funding

Funding agency: The Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences rorid

Funding agency’s reference number: 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

Associated documentation

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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

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

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Dataset 2

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

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 citation

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Dataset 3

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

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 citation

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

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