Pro-Environmental Behavior in an Aging World: Evidence from 31 Countries

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Feb 11;18(4):1748. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18041748.


Population change and environmental degradation have become two of the most pressing issues for sustainable development in the contemporary world, while the effect of population aging on pro-environmental behavior remains controversial. In this paper, we examine the effects of individual and population aging on pro-environmental behavior through multilevel analyses of cross-national data from 31 countries. Hierarchical linear models with random intercepts are employed to analyze the data. The findings reveal a positive relationship between aging and pro-environmental behavior. At the individual level, older people are more likely to participate in environmental behavior (b = 0.052, p < 0.001), and at the national level, living in a country with a greater share of older persons encourages individuals to behave sustainably (b = 0.023, p < 0.01). We also found that the elderly are more environmentally active in an aging society. The findings imply that the longevity of human beings may offer opportunities for the improvement of the natural environment.

Keywords: age; environmental behavior; multilevel research; population aging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging*
  • Environment
  • Humans
  • Longevity*