Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-jbqgn Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-06-20T23:15:23.792Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Interests, Norms and Support for the Provision of Global Public Goods: The Case of Climate Co-operation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 July 2017


Mitigating climate change requires countries to provide a global public good. This means that the domestic cleavages underlying mass attitudes toward international climate policy are a central determinant of its provision. We argue that the industry-specific costs of emission abatement and internalized social norms help explain support for climate policy. To evaluate our predictions we develop novel measures of industry-specific interests by cross-referencing individuals’ sectors of employment and objective industry-level pollution data and employing quasi-behavioral measures of social norms in combination with both correlational and conjoint-experimental data. We find that individuals working in pollutive industries are 7 percentage points less likely to support climate co-operation than individuals employed in cleaner sectors. Our results also suggest that reciprocal and altruistic individuals are about 10 percentage points more supportive of global climate policy. These findings indicate that both interests and norms function as complementary explanations that improve our understanding of individual policy preferences.

© Cambridge University Press 2017 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



Michael M. Bechtel, Department of Political Science, Washington University in St. Louis, United States, and Swiss Institute for International Economics and Applied Economic Research, St. Gallen, Switzerland (Email:; Federica Genovese, Department of Government, University of Essex, United Kingdom (Email:; Kenneth F. Scheve, Department of Political Science and Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University, United States (Email: We thank Lisa Martin, Emilie Hafner-Burton and seminar participants at the American Political Science Association Meetings 2014, International Political Economy Society Conference 2014, the University of Konstanz and UCSD for helpful comments. We gratefully acknowledge financial support from the Swiss Network for International Studies, Yale University’s MacMillan Center for International & Area Studies, Yale University’s Institution for Social and Policy Studies and Stanford University’s Department of Political Science. Michael M. Bechtel gratefully acknowledges support from the Swiss National Science Foundation (grant # PP00P1-139035). Data replication sets are available in Harvard Dataverse at: doi:10.7910/DVN/BFCD08 and online appendices are available at


Ackerman, F., and Bueno, R.. 2011. Use of McKinsey Abatement Cost Curves for Climate Economics Modeling. Technical report. Stockholm: Stockholm Environment Institute.Google Scholar
Allo, M., and M. Loureiro. 2014. The Role of Social Norms on Preferences towards Climate Change Policies: A Metaanalysis. Energy Policy 73:563574.Google Scholar
Andreoni, J. 1990. Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving. The Economic Journal 100 (401):464477.Google Scholar
Ansolabehere, S., and Rivers, D.. 2013. Cooperative Survey Research. Annual Review of Political Science 16 (1):123.Google Scholar
Ansolabehere, S., and Schaffner, B. F.. 2014. Does Survey Mode Still Matter? Findings from a 2010 Multi-Mode Comparison. Political Analysis 22 (3):285–303.Google Scholar
Barrett, S., and Stavins, R.. 2003. Increasing Participation and Compliance in International Climate Change Agreements. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics 3 (4):349376.Google Scholar
Bechtel, M. M., and Scheve, K. F.. 2014. Mass Support for Climate Cooperation Depends on Institutional Design. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110 (34):1376313768.Google Scholar
Bechtel, M. M., and Scheve, K. F.. forthcoming. Public Goods and the Causal Effect of Expected Cooperation in Representative Samples. Journal of Experimental Political Science.Google Scholar
Bechtel, M. M., and Urpelainen, J.. 2015. All Policies are Glocal: International Environmental Policymaking with Strategic Subnational Governments. British Journal of Political Science 45 (3):559582.Google Scholar
Bechtel, M. M., Hainmueller, J., and Margalit, Y.. 2012. Studying Public Opinion on Multidimensional Policies: The Case of the Eurozone Bailouts. Working Paper 2163594. Rochester, NY: SSRN.Google Scholar
Becker, G. S. 1975. The Economic Approach to Human Behavior. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Böhmelt, T. 2013. Civil Society Lobbying and Countries’ Climate Change Policies: Matching Approach. Climate Policy 13 (6):698717.Google Scholar
Broz, J. L. 2005. Congressional Politics of International Financial Rescues. American Journal of Political Science 49 (3):479496.Google Scholar
Camerer, C. F., and Fehr, E.. 2004. Measuring Social Norms and Preferences Using Experimental Games: A Guide for Social Scientists. In Foundations of Human Sociality: Economic Experiments and Ethnographic Evidence from Fifteen Small-scale Societies, edited by J. Henrich, E. Fehr and H. Gintis, 5595. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Cao, X., Milner, H. V., Prakash, A., and Ward, H.. 2014. Research Frontiers in Comparative and International Environmental Politics: An Introduction. Comparative Political Studies 47 (3):291308.Google Scholar
Carlsson, F., Johansson-Stenmann, O., and Nam, P. K.. 2014. Social Preferences are Stable over Long Periods of Time. Journal of Public Economics 117:104114.Google Scholar
Carlsson, F., Kataria, M., Krupnick, A., Lampi, E., Lofgren, A., Qin, P., Chung, S., and Sterner, T.. 2012. Paying for Mitigation: A Multiple Country Study. Land Economics 88 (2):326340.Google Scholar
Cline, W. R. 2004. Global Warming and Agriculture: Impact Estimates by Country. Washington, DC: Peterson Institute for International Economics.Google Scholar
Egan, P., and Mullin, M.. 2012. Turning Personal Experience into Political Attitudes: The Effect of Local Weather on Americans’ Perceptions about Global Warming. Journal of Politics 74 (3):796809.Google Scholar
Fehr, E., and Fischbacher, U.. 2003. The Nature of Human Altruism. Nature 425:785791.Google Scholar
Fehr, E., and Fischbacher, U.. 2004. Social Norms and Human Cooperation. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 8 (4):185190.Google Scholar
Fehr, E., and Fischbacher, U.. 2005. The Economics of Strong Reciprocity. In Moral Sentiments and Material Interests: The Foundations of Cooperation in Economic Life, edited by H. Gintis, S. Bowles, R. Boyd and E. Fehr, 151192. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Fehr, E., and Gächter, S.. 2000. Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity. Journal of Economic Perspectives 14 (3):159181.Google Scholar
Finnemore, M., and Sikkink, K.. 2001. Taking Stock: The Constructivist Research Programme in International Relations and Comparative Politics. Annual Review of Political Science 4:391416.Google Scholar
Fischbacher, U., and Gächter, S.. 2010. Social Preferences, Beliefs, and the Dynamics of Free Riding in Public Goods Experiments. American Economic Review 100 (1):541556.Google Scholar
Fischbacher, U., Gächter, S., and Fehr, E.. 2001. Are People Conditionally Cooperative? Evidence from a Public Goods Experiment. Economics Letters 71 (3):397404.Google Scholar
Fredriksson, P. G., Neumayer, E., and Ujhelyi, G.. 2007. Kyoto Protocol Cooperation: Does Government Corruption Facilitate Environmental Lobbying? Public Choice 133 (1):231251.Google Scholar
Gabel, M. J. 1998. Economic Integration and Mass Politics: Market Liberalization and Public Attitudes in the European Union. American Journal of Political Science 42 (3):936953.Google Scholar
Gampfer, R., Bernauer, T., and Kachi, A.. 2014. Obtaining Public Support for North–south Climate Funding: Evidence from Conjoint Experiments in Donor Countries. Global Environmental Change 29:118126.Google Scholar
Gilens, M. 2012. Why Americans Hate Welfare: Race, Media and the Politics of Anti-Poverty. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Gutmann, A., and Thompson, D.. 1998. Democracy and Disagreement. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Hainmueller, J., and Hiscox, M. J.. 2010. Attitudes Toward Highly Skilled and Low-Skilled Immigration: Evidence from a Survey Experiment. American Political Science Review 104 (1):6184.Google Scholar
Hainmueller, J., Hopkins, D., and Yamamoto, T.. 2014. Causal Inference in Conjoint Analysis: Understanding Multi-dimensional Choices Via Stated Preference Experiments. Political Analysis 22:130.Google Scholar
Hansen, K. M., Olsen, A. L., and Bech, M.. 2015. Cross-National Yardstick Comparisons: A Choice Experiment on a Forgotten Voter Heuristic. Political Behavior 37:767789.Google Scholar
Hanson, G. H., Scheve, K. F., and Slaughter, M. J.. 2007. Public Finance and Individual Preferences Over Globalization Strategies. Economics and Politics 19 (1):133.Google Scholar
Hays, J. C., Ehrlich, S., and Peinhardt, C.. 2005. Government Spending and Public Support for Trade in the OECD: An Empirical Test of the Embedded Liberalism Thesis. International Organization 59 (2):473494.Google Scholar
Kolstad, C. D. 2014. Who Pays for Climate Regulation? Technical report. Stanford, CA: Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.Google Scholar
, X., Scheve, K. F., and Slaughter, M. J.. 2012. Inequity Aversion and the International Distribution of Trade Protection. American Journal of Political Science 56 (3):638654.Google Scholar
Luce, R. D., and Tukey, J. W.. 1964. Simultaneous Conjoint Measurement: A New Type of Fundamental Measurement. Journal of Mathematical Psychology 1:127.Google Scholar
Lupa, N., and Pontusson, J.. 2011. The Structure of Inequality and the Politics of Redistribution. American Political Science Review 105 (2):316336.Google Scholar
Mansfield, E. D., and Mutz, D. C.. 2009. Support for Free Trade: Self-interest, Sociotropic Politics, and Out-Group Anxiety. International Organization 63 (03):425457.Google Scholar
March, J. G., and Olsen, J. P.. 1998. The Institutional Dynamics of International Political Orders. International Organization 52 (4):943969.Google Scholar
Mayda, A. M. 2006. Who is Against Immigration? A Cross-Country Investigation of Attitudes Towards Immigrants. Review of Economics and Statistics 88 (3):510530.Google Scholar
Meltzer, A. H., and Richard, S. F.. 1981. A Rational Theory of the Size of Government. Journal of Political Economy 89 (5):914927.10.1086/261013Google Scholar
Milinski, M., Semmann, D., Krambeck, H.-J., and Marotzke, J.. 2006. Stabilizing the Earth’s Climate is Not a Losing Game: Supporting Evidence from Public Goods Experiments. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 103 (11):39943998.Google Scholar
Naoi, M., and Kume, I.. 2011. Explaining Mass Support for Agricultural Protectionism: Evidence from a Survey Experiment During the Global Recession. International Organization 65 (4):771795.Google Scholar
Nisbet, M., and Myers, T.. 2007. Twenty Years of Public Opinion about Global Warming. Public Opinion Quarterly 71 (3):444470.Google Scholar
OECD. 2010. Costs and Effectivenesss of the Copenhagen Pledges: Assessing the Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions Targets and Actions for 2020. Technical report. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
Olson, M. 1965. The Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Ostrom, E. 2000. Collective Action and the Evolution of Social Norms. Journal of Economic Perspectives 14:137158.Google Scholar
Pandya, S. S. 2010. Labor Markets and Demand for Foreign Direct Investment. International Organization 64 (3):389409.Google Scholar
Pittel, K., and Riibbelke, D. T. G.. 2008. Climate Policy and Ancillary Benefits: A Survey and Integration into the Modelling of International Negotiations on Climate Change. Ecological Economics 68 (1–2):210220.Google Scholar
Rehm, P., Hacker, J. S., and Schlesinger, M.. 2012. Insecure Alliances: Risk, Inequality, and Support for the Welfare State. American Political Science Review 106 (2):386406.Google Scholar
Rivers, D. 2011. Sample Matching: Representative Sampling from Internet Panels. White Paper. Palao Alto, CA: YouGov.Google Scholar
Rodrik, D. 1998. Why Do More Open Economies have Bigger Governments? Journal of Political Economy 106 (5):9971032.Google Scholar
Scheve, K. F., and Slaughter, M. J.. 2001. What Determines Individual Trade-Policy Preferences? Journal of International Economics 54:267292.Google Scholar
Selten, R. 1967. Die Strategiemethode zur Erforschung des eingeschriankt rationalen Verhaltens im Rahmen eines Oligopolexperiments. In Beiträge zur experimentellen Wirtschaftsforschung, edited by H. Sauermann, 136168. Tüibingen: J. C. B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck).Google Scholar
Stern, N. 2007. The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Stokes, L. C. 2016. Electoral Backlash Against Climate Policy: A Natural Experiment on Retrospective Voting and Local Resistance to Public Policy. American Journal of Political Science 60 (4):958–974.Google Scholar
Tingley, D., and Tomz, M.. 2014. Conditional Cooperation and Climate Change. Comparative Political Studies 47 (3):344368.Google Scholar
Tvinnereim, E., and Lachapelle, E.. 2014. Is Support for International Climate Action Conditional on Perceptions of Reciprocity? Evidence from Three Population-Based Survey Experiments in Canada, the US, and Add Paper Presented at 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association.Google Scholar
UNEP. 2012. The Emissions Gap Report 2012. A UNEP synthesis report. Technical report. Nairobi: UNEP.Google Scholar
Victor, D. G. 2006. Effective International Cooperation on Climate Change: Numbers, Interests, and Institutions. Global Environmental Politics 6 (3):90103.Google Scholar
von Stein, J. 2008. The International Law and Politics of Climate Change. Journal of Conflict Resolution 52 (2):243268.Google Scholar
Waltz, K. N. 1979. Theory of International Politics. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
Ward, H., Grundig, F., and Zorick, E. R.. 2001. Marching at the Pace of the Slowest: A Model of International Climate-change Negotiations. Political Studies 49 (3):438461.Google Scholar
Weber, M. 1968. Economy and Society. New York: Bedminster Press.Google Scholar
Supplementary material: Link

Bechtel et al Dataset

Supplementary material: PDF

Bechtel supplementary material

Online Appendix

Download Bechtel supplementary material(PDF)
PDF 431.6 KB