Opinion Clusters in Academic and Public Debates on Growth-vs-Environment

Stefan Drews*, Ivan Savin, Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The debate about the relationship between economic growth and environmental sustainability involves many dimensions as well as much diversity in terminology. While it is often summarized in terms of dichotomous pro- and anti-growth positions, several studies indicate that additional views exist, and that these may differ between experts and the general public. The objective of this paper is to identify and analyze segments of the scientific and general population with distinct views in this respect. To this end, we bring together two data sets: one from a nationally representative survey of the general public of Spain (N = 1004) and another from an international survey of researchers from various disciplinary backgrounds (N = 814). Using latent class analysis, we identify three similar segments in the two samples, labeled as Green growth, Agrowth and Degrowth. Overall, clusters are more consistent, better distinguishable on all constituent dimensions and more polarized in the scientific than public opinion survey. In addition, we find that diverging views on social issues are more strongly associated with distinct clusters in the public opinion sample, and on environmental issues in the scientific opinion sample.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-155
Number of pages15
JournalEcological Economics
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


  • Clustering
  • Growth-vs-environment debate
  • Public opinion
  • Scientific opinion
  • Segmentation


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