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AbstractThis paper focuses on the possibility of a culturally rooted "green conscience". The overall re-search question is: Why are people in different countries showing different pro-environmental behavior if one abstracts from situational or obviously geographical factors? This question derives from the fact that almost every country in the world invests in projects that aim to protect the environment and whose impact is often not measurable in positive mone-tary terms. This can be regarded as an example of a desirable ethical objective and has since long been of distinct value for people across different cultures. However, these findings challenge neoclassical economics, which claims that a positive mone-tary value has to be attributed to these kinds of action. Furthermore, mainstream economic thinking would posit investment in environmental protection as a function of income, while empirical facts put this into question. The resulting paradox is the starting point for my research which will try to isolate cultural factors as an explanation for the stated contradiction. To do this, findings and methodology from cross-cultural psychology, cultural psychology, cultural anthropology and social psychology will be applied to enhance the economic approach. Two different cultures (e.g. Taiwan and Uruguay or Turkey and Albania) will serve as examples and will be analyzed precisely. The two selected cases should show striking differences in pro-environmental behavior (e.g. Taiwan ranks 141st, Turkey ranks 91st, while Uruguay ranks 3rd and Albania ranks 24th on the Environmental Sustainability Index) but have comparable eco-nomic benchmark data. On the one hand side, the environmental dimension of the question could be explored by material flow accounting or footprint analysis. One the other hand side, by taking a closer look at the underlying time concept, preference for leisure, risk aversion and religious structures, culturally rooted determinants of a "green conscience" should be found. An apparent cultural influence on pro-environmental behavior is expected to exist that could count for a part of the stated differences. That in turn would mean, that ideas like the sustain-ability one cannot be simply applied globally, but that the value of nature for each and every culture does vary and has to be taken into account when coming up with environmental policies.
Bening, Catharina-Rebecca: The green conscience - what role does culture play? Nachwuchsworkshops "Umwelt- und Ressourcenökonomik". Institut für Weltwirtschaft an der Universität Kiel, 20 February 2006.