The intergenerational transmission of preferences for protecting the climate: Evidence from a tandem survey of adolescents and their parents

Last registered on June 29, 2022

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
The intergenerational transmission of preferences for protecting the climate: Evidence from a tandem survey of adolescents and their parents
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0009672
Initial registration date
June 28, 2022

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
June 29, 2022, 3:20 PM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Locations

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Primary Investigator

Affiliation
ifo Institut, Munich

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

Status
In development
Start date
2022-06-28
End date
2023-12-31
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
In 2018, students around the world have started to fight for climate protection and protest for environment-friendly policies every Friday. These protests triggered a lot of media attention and are discussed as one of the reasons why public attention towards climate change has increased over the past years. But how do students’ preferences for climate change affect the older generation? In our experimental design, we survey a representative sample of adolescents and their parents in Germany to investigate the intergenerational relationship in preferences for climate protection. For that purpose, we implement a survey experiment in which a randomly selected treatment group of parents is informed about their child’s view that their parents should engage in actions to protect the climate. By comparing responses between the uninformed control group and the informed treatment group, we evaluate whether the child’s stated importance affects parental (i) donations towards a climate-friendly cause, (ii) preferences for policies aiming to protect the climate, and (iii) their private actions for climate protection.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Werner, Katharina. 2022. "The intergenerational transmission of preferences for protecting the climate: Evidence from a tandem survey of adolescents and their parents." AEA RCT Registry. June 29. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.9672
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Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
We investigate the intergenerational relationship in preferences for climate protection among children and their parents.
For that purpose, we conduct a survey experiment in a sample of 2,000 adolescents between the age of 14 and 17 years as well as their parents. Within our survey, we elicit a number of parallel questions related to the children’s and parents’ preferences for climate protection. In addition, we run a survey experiment where a randomly selected treatment group of parents is informed about the child’s view on the importance that their parents engage in actions protecting the climate. After information provision, parents in the treatment group and in the uninformed control group are asked about their (i) donations to a climate-friendly cause, (ii) their preferences for policies aiming to protect the climate (e.g., government investments in renewable energy) and (iii) their private actions for climate protection (e.g., consumption behavior).
Intervention Start Date
2022-06-28
Intervention End Date
2022-08-01

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Our primary outcomes of interest are parents’ (i) donations to a climate-friendly cause, (ii) their preferences for policies aiming to protect the climate and (iii) their private actions for climate protection.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
First, we ask about parents’ donations to a climate-friendly cause. The corresponding outcome question is worded as follows:
“By taking part in this survey, you will be entered into a prize draw for 50 euros. Participation in the lottery is automatic. This means that you do not have to do anything else to participate in the lottery.
In case you win, you now have the opportunity to split the 50 euros between yourself and the Fridays for Future movement. Fridays for Future is committed to taking action to combat climate change and global warming.
If you win, the money you would like to keep for yourself will be credited to your survey account after survey completion. The money you choose to donate will be sent to Fridays for Future.
If you win, how much of the 50 euros would you like to donate in total?”
Respondents answers are recorded on an open field that takes values from 0 to 50. In addition, respondents have the option to indicate that they would like to donate to the case, but not to Fridays for Future. These respondents are then given the option to donate between 0 and 50 Euro to the organisation WWF.

Second, we ask about parental preferences for policies aiming to protect the climate which is worded as follows:
“Do you favour or oppose the following policy measures?
Please remember that such measures often have to be financed through higher taxes.”
- Ending the extraction of fossil fuels (e.g., coal, gas, petroleum)
- Increasing government investment in renewable energy (e.g., wind or solar power)
- Expansion of local public transport (e.g. bus or train)
- Voting rights from the age of 16 to increase the participation of young people in political decision-making
For each policy, answers can be provided on a 5-point scale: strongly favour, somewhat favour, somewhat oppose, strongly oppose, neither nor.

Third, we ask about private actions for climate protection which is worded as follows:
“In the future, how likely are you to engage in the following actions to protect the climate?”
- Avoid air travel
- Mainly use public transportation or bicycle or walk
- Eat little meat
- Buy sustainable and climate-friendly products (e.g. clothing or food)
Answers can be provided on a 5-point scale: very likely, somewhat likely, somewhat unlikely, and very unlikely, neither nor.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
To better understand the emergence of the treatment effects and to investigate potential mediating channels of our treatments, we ask two further outcome questions: parents’ (i) reasoning for donating the specified amount to a climate-friendly cause and (ii) posterior beliefs about a corresponding donation behaviour of their child.

In addition, we plan to perform heterogeneity analyses with respect to (i) parents’ prior beliefs about how important their child reports climate change concerns are to the child (ii) personal anxiety about the climate change, and (iii) perceptions about which generation mainly bears the consequences of the climate change.

Finally, to benchmark the parental view against the view of their children, we will also ask all children about their perceptions about who bears the cost of climate change, how important they see actions against climate change and donation behaviour (see sequence of events below).
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
First, we ask a prior belief question to all parents which is worded as follows:
Now we would like to ask you how important it is to your child that you engage in actions against climate change and global warming. How much do you think your child agrees with the following statement? "It is important to me that my parents engage in actions against climate change and global warming."
Which of the following response categories do you think your child would choose?
Answer can be given on the following 7-point scale: strongly agree, mostly agree, tend to agree, tend to disagree, mostly disagree, and strongly disagree.

Second, we elicit the reasons why parents decided to donate a certain amount of money to a climate-friendly cause after the respective outcome question.
An open-ended question is worded as follows: In the previous question, you decided to donate [answer from previous question] euros. Now we would like to know why you decided to do this. Please describe as briefly and as accurately as possible how you came to your decision.
Maximum 100 words.

A related closed-ended question is worded as follows: To what extent do you agree with the following statements about your decision?
I decided to donate [answer from previous question] euros
- Because my child would like me to make this decision.
- Because this decision is good for my child.
- Because this decision is good for the community.
- Because this decision expresses how I feel about climate protection.
- Because this decision expresses how I feel about Fridays for Future.
Respondents can choose from one of the following 5 answer categories: strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, strongly disagree, neither nor

Third, we ask about respondents’ personal anxiety towards climate change as follows: How much do you agree with the following statements?
- I am concerned about climate change and its consequences.
- I have already been politically involved in the fight against climate change (e.g. in demonstrations).
Respondents can choose from one of the following 5 answer categories: strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, strongly disagree, neither nor

Fourth, we elicit respondents’ perceptions about which generation bears the consequences of the climate change as follows:
How much do you think the following groups of people will be affected by the consequences of climate change?
- My partner (if applicable) and me
- My parents
- My children
- My (future) grandchildren
Respondents can choose from one of the following 5 answer categories: strongly affected, somewhat affected, somewhat not affected, strongly not affected, neither nor.

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We conduct the initial survey in a sample of 2,000 adolescents aged between 14 and 17 years and their parents. The survey is conducted in cooperation with a German survey institute. The recruitment of the participants is managed by the survey company, which collects the data via an online platform. That is, our participants answer the survey questions autonomously on their own digital devices. Randomization is carried out by the survey company at the individual level, using a computer.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization is carried out by the survey company, using a computer.
Randomization Unit
at the individual level
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
from the initial 2,000 sampled parents roughly 1,600 are expected to participate in the follow-up survey
Sample size: planned number of observations
from the initial 2,000 sampled parents roughly 1,600 are expected to participate in the follow-up survey
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
2,000 parents and children in the initial questionnaire, 1,600 parents are expected to participate in the follow-up survey which are randomly selected between the control group (800) and the treatment group (800)
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
none
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Ethics Commission, Department of Economics, University of Munich
IRB Approval Date
2022-06-28
IRB Approval Number
2022-2