Environmental Protection Improves Jobs and the Economy


Environmental Protection Improves Jobs and the Economy

Findings

Some politicians argue that taking action to protect the environment will harm the economy and cost jobs. However, a recent national survey finds that only 15% of Americans agree with this claim. Instead, a large majority of Americans (60%) say that in the long run, protecting the environment actually improves economic growth and provides new jobs, while another 22% say that protecting the environment has no impact on economic growth or jobs.

Only 15% of Americans think environmental protection harms the economy.

In other words, 82% of Americans say that environmental protection is either good or neutral for economic growth, while only 15% think environmental protection harms the economy.

Image for Protecting the Environment Will Improve the Economy and Provide New Jobs
Image for Protecting the Environment Will Improve the Economy and Provide New Jobs

Of Democrats, 69% say protecting the environment improves economic growth and jobs, 19% say it has no impact, and only 10% think the economic impact is negative. Of Republicans, 51% say that environmental protection has a positive economic impact, 24% say it has no impact, while only 23% think the economic impact is negative.

Even a majority of conservative Republicans say environmental protection has either a positive economic impact (45%) or no impact (25%), while a minority (29%) thinks it has a negative impact. Among moderate and liberal Republicans, 62% think environmental protection has a positive economic impact, 24% think it has no impact, and 11% think the impact is negative.

Likewise, majorities of women (64%), men (56%), African-Americans (71%), Hispanics (59%), non-Hispanic whites (59%), born-again/Evangelical Christians (53%), non-Evangelical Protestants (62%), and Catholics (62%) all say protecting the environment improves the economy, while much smaller minorities think it harms economic growth.

Perhaps most striking, however, is that a number of key socioeconomic factors do not correspond to people’s views. For instance, both people who are currently employed (60%) and those who are not employed (59%) say that protecting the environment improves economic growth and provides new jobs, with only a small percentage of each (16% and 15% respectively) who think it reduces growth and costs jobs. Moreover, there are also no differences of opinion based on measures of household income or education level – majorities of rich and poor, and those with or without a college degree all say protecting the environment improves economic growth.

Methods

This report is based on findings from a nationally representative survey – The Yale AP-NORC Environment Study – conducted by researchers at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (http://environment.yale.edu/) in partnership with the Associated Press-NORC Center on Public Policy Research (www.apnorc.org). Interview dates: November 20 – December 1, 2014. Interviews: 1,578 adults (18+) in all 50 states.

Average margin of error: +/- 3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. The research was funded by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. For tabulation purposes, percentage points are rounded off to the nearest whole number. As a result, percentages in a given chart may total slightly higher or lower than 100%.