This article aims to empirically test the so called low-cost hypothesis. The hypothesis posits that cost moderates the strength of the relationship between environmental concern and behavior. The effects of the behavioral cost and environmental concern on household waste recycling were evaluated, using empirical data collected from 2,695 respondents in Cologne, Germany. Empirically, a clear effect of both behavioral cost and environmental concern can be identified. Recycling rates are higher when a curbside scheme is implemented or the distance to collection containers is low. In addition, the probability of recycling participation rises when the actor has a pronounced environmental concern. This effect of environmental attitudes does not vary with behavioral cost and opportunities. Therefore, the low-cost hypothesis is not supported by the study.
Empirical Analyses on the Complex Relationship between Postmaterialism, National Wealth, and Environmental Concern
Jochen Mayerl and Henning Best
This article examines cross-cultural differences in the value cluster of environmentalism and postmaterialism. Based on an extension of Ronald Inglehart’s “objective problems–subjective values” hypothesis, we posit different sources of postmaterialism and environmental concern in wealthy versus poor countries. We test hypotheses on the relationship between national wealth, postmaterialist values, and environmental concern using empirical data from the World Values Survey waves 5 and 6 and the International Social Survey Program 2010. Using multilevel regression models with cross-level interaction terms and country fixed effects, we show that the effect of postmaterialism on environmental concern is indeed moderated by national wealth: whereas there is a weak or even no effect in poorer countries, the relationship is substantial in wealthy countries. Therefore, we argue that individual postmaterialist values and environmental concern do in fact form a coherent structure in wealthy countries, but should be considered as isolated constructs in poorer countries.