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Understanding the role of post-materialism in the trade-off between economic growth and the environment in BRICS countries
Working Paper Number: 424
Author: Jorich Johann Loubser
This article uses the World Values Survey to explore, in the BRICS countries and in the ‘West’ (a pool of observations from Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden), the role of values (materialist and post-materialist) in shaping whether respondents prioritise the environment even at the cost of growth, or growth even if the environment suffers. Inglehart’s theory of post-materialism suggests that materialists will support economic growth at the cost of environmental degradation, while post-materialists will favour environmental protection. However, the article finds that at relatively low levels of GDP per capita, post-materialists support economic growth at the expense of the environment, perhaps in an attempt to alleviate poverty. In countries with relatively high GDP per capita, post-materialists are more likely to favour environmental protection over economic growth. Post-materialist theory suggests that individuals personal economic environments shape their values; this article shows that the economic conditions of the community/country shape the way that these values are lived out.