Ecological Economics

Are environmental concerns deterring people from having children? Longitudinal evidence on births in the UK

Ecological Economics

Authors: Prof. Andrew Oswald

Nattavudh Powdthavee, Andrew J. Oswald and Ben Lockwood


Do ‘green’ environmental concerns – such as about biodiversity, climate change, pollution – deter citizens from having children? This paper reports the first longitudinal evidence consistent with that increasingly discussed hypothesis. It follows through time a random sample of thousands of initially childless men and women in the UK. The paper shows that those individuals who are committed to a green lifestyle are found to be substantially less likely to go on later to have offspring. Probit and Weibull survival models are estimated. The results are robust to controlling for people’s age, education, income, marital status, mental health, life satisfaction, optimism, and physical health. The paper’s key estimated effect-size is substantial. A person entirely unconcerned about environmental behaviour is estimated to be just over 50% more likely to go on to have a child than a deeply committed environmentalist.