Environmental factors, individual attitudes, and selective migration behaviour

  • 18 May 2022

    16:00-17:30, Clay Room, Nuffield College

  • Sociology Seminar   Add to Calendar
Speaker: Tobias Rüttenauer

Nuffield College

This event is part of the Sociology Seminar Series.

The presentation will focus on two projects which connect individual-level panel data to environmental conditions: 1) the effect of extreme weather events on environmental attitudes and behaviour, and 2) the drivers of successful neighbourhood attainment in terms of environmental quality.

1) The influence of experiencing extreme weather events on environmental attitudes and behaviour has rarely been tested with large-scale individual-level panel data. This study links panel data from 35,678 individuals to floods across England and heatwaves across the UK, and applies within-person estimators to account for pre-existing differences between affected and unaffected individuals. Results reveal that individuals are more likely to believe in climate change after being affected by a geographically proximate flood or a temporally proximate heatwave. These effects are stronger among initially right-leaning partisans and those initially more sceptic about climate change, thereby indicating attitudinal updating due to experiential learning. However, those exposed to extreme weather events do not change their environmental behaviour such as energy saving, sustainable shopping or means of transportation.

2) From 2009 to 2019, immigrant minorities in England have experienced improvements in relative income deprivation at the neighbourhood level, but still reside in relatively polluted areas. This project connects individual respondents of the UKHLS panel to neighbourhood characteristics over time, and tests several theoretical mechanisms of neighbourhood attainment. Results contradict explanations based on diverging perceptions and preferences, as immigrants express similar wishes to move after quality changes in a neighbourhood. Moreover, moving substantially improves the relative neighbourhood deprivation of immigrant minorities. To test the drivers of `successful' moves, I apply boosted regression tree ensembles and Shapley Explanation values to identify the most important contributors to individual’s neighbourhood changes. Results indicate that especially moves out of ethnic enclaves improve the neighbourhood deprivation of immigrants. However, immigrant minorities do not move into more rural and less populated areas, and thus remain disadvantaged regarding the environmental quality of their neighbourhoods.

The Sociology Seminar Series for Hilary Term is convened by Ginevra Floridi, Ramina Sotoudeh and Benjamin Elbers.  For more information about this or any of the seminars in the series, please contact