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Interests, Norms and Support for the Provision of Global Public Goods: The Case of Climate Co-operation

  • Michael M. Bechtel, Federica Genovese and Kenneth F. Scheve


Mitigating climate change requires countries to provide a global public good. This means that the domestic cleavages underlying mass attitudes toward international climate policy are a central determinant of its provision. We argue that the industry-specific costs of emission abatement and internalized social norms help explain support for climate policy. To evaluate our predictions we develop novel measures of industry-specific interests by cross-referencing individuals’ sectors of employment and objective industry-level pollution data and employing quasi-behavioral measures of social norms in combination with both correlational and conjoint-experimental data. We find that individuals working in pollutive industries are 7 percentage points less likely to support climate co-operation than individuals employed in cleaner sectors. Our results also suggest that reciprocal and altruistic individuals are about 10 percentage points more supportive of global climate policy. These findings indicate that both interests and norms function as complementary explanations that improve our understanding of individual policy preferences.



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Michael M. Bechtel, Department of Political Science, Washington University in St. Louis, United States, and Swiss Institute for International Economics and Applied Economic Research, St. Gallen, Switzerland (Email:; Federica Genovese, Department of Government, University of Essex, United Kingdom (Email:; Kenneth F. Scheve, Department of Political Science and Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University, United States (Email: We thank Lisa Martin, Emilie Hafner-Burton and seminar participants at the American Political Science Association Meetings 2014, International Political Economy Society Conference 2014, the University of Konstanz and UCSD for helpful comments. We gratefully acknowledge financial support from the Swiss Network for International Studies, Yale University’s MacMillan Center for International & Area Studies, Yale University’s Institution for Social and Policy Studies and Stanford University’s Department of Political Science. Michael M. Bechtel gratefully acknowledges support from the Swiss National Science Foundation (grant # PP00P1-139035). Data replication sets are available in Harvard Dataverse at: doi:10.7910/DVN/BFCD08 and online appendices are available at



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