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The luxury of environmental concern in the US: evidence from Google Trends data

Christopher Jeffords (), Alexi Thompson and Jordan Gwinn
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Alexi Thompson: Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Jordan Gwinn: Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Letters in Spatial and Resource Sciences, 2019, vol. 12, issue 2, No 4, 132 pages

Abstract: Abstract Google Trends data are correlated with income per capita at the state-level to examine the relationship between search intensity related to environmental issues and economic growth. Depending on the search term or topic and if said term or topic is measured in nominal or real terms, a simple cross-section regression yields an inverted-U shaped relationship between the two. Over a relatively lower range of income, search intensity is positively correlated to economic growth but, after a certain threshold income level is reached, further economic growth is negatively correlated with search intensity. The results hold when controlling for education rates, unemployment rates, and presidential voting patterns within a state. Our results imply that individuals within relatively poorer states tend to seek out information about the natural environment with greater frequency than individuals within relatively richer states, and perhaps for a few different reasons. We discuss the implications of these results within the context of the limitations of the data.

Keywords: Google Trends; Deforestation; Environmental Kuznets Curve; Invasive species; Climate change; Pollution (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D80 Q56 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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DOI: 10.1007/s12076-019-00231-3

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