Educational attainment and environmental concern in China: An instrumental variable approach

Francisco OLIVOS*, Gonzalo PALOMO-VÉLEZ, Pablo OLIVOS-JARA, Minhui LIU

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Formal education is theorised to be an essential vehicle to promote and trigger pro‐environmental attitudes and behavioural changes among citizens via the increase of public awareness and concern. However, robust estimations of its causal effect on individuals’ concern for the environment are scarce. This study aimed to estimate the effect of educational attainment on environmental concern in China, addressing the problem of endogeneity. China is the largest emitter of CO2 and faces severe environmental problems due to its rapid process of industrialisation and urbanisation. The findings show that educational attainment has a robust positive causal effect on environmental concern in China. After addressing potential endogeneity issues using an instrumental variable approach, the effect is stronger than a conventional ordinal least squares estimation. Thus, education is a crucial path of action to promote environmental concern and subsequent pro‐environmental behaviour in China.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-168
Number of pages13
JournalAsian Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number2
Early online date23 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Francisco Olivos acknowledges the support of the Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme of the Research Grants Council, Hong Kong SAR.


  • China
  • educational attainment
  • environmental concern
  • instrumental variable


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