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Journal of Cleaner Production

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Models from several social science fields have identified factors that lead to pro-environmental behavior. This research builds on those models by analyzing a survey completed by over 500 undergraduates at a US liberal arts university to examine the characteristics of students that are associated with more environmentally friendly behavior and quantify the desirability of different environmental initiatives. There is evidence that the probability of pro-environmental behavior substantially increases with each additional year that a student spends on campus. The magnitude of the effect is between 4 and 10 percentage points per year, depending on the specific behavior and empirical model. This contribution suggests that higher education impacts pro-environmental behavior and supports the notion that higher education institutions can play an important role in making societies more sustainable. Further, evidence is presented to suggest that this increase in pro-environmental behavior over one's college career is due to factors outside of the formal curriculum. This study also finds that females and ethnic/racial minorities engage in significantly higher levels of green behavior including recycling and double-sided printing. On average, students prefer sustainability initiatives related to energy conservation and recycling to other environmental programs but there is a great deal of heterogeneity in these preferences.


NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Cleaner Production. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 112, No. 4 (January 2016): 3451-3463. DOI. © 2016 Elsevier. Used with permission.

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