Altruism and the Demand for Environmental Quality

December 13, 1999

David Popp
Department of Economics
The University of Kansas
213 Summerfield Hall
Lawrence, KS 66045-2113
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This paper asks whether individuals consider the value future generations will receive from environmental quality when deciding what level of environmental protection to provide.  Using data on life expectancy, I develop two tests for altruism towards future generations.  One, a test for strong altruism, assumes that individuals place no consideration on their own self-interest when deciding to provide environmental quality.  The second, a test for weak altruism, combines an individualís concern for both self-interest and the interest of future generations.  Using data from a Washington Post survey on environmental attitudes to implement the test, evidence of weak altruism is found.