in: Asian Studies Review, published online 3 May 2021
The lifestyles of the growing middle classes in the Philippines have a potentially significant impact on the environment. To what extent and how this happens depends on the attitudes, aspirations and actual consumption practices of the middle classes. Environmental knowledge, environmental concern, wealth and international experience present the key concepts for the exploratory analysis of consumer behaviour. This contribution draws on a unique combination of quantitative and qualitative data, using national and city-level household surveys as well as insights from focus group discussions. The study finds that higher wealth levels and environmental concern influence reported energy saving behaviours. Younger, female and environmentally concerned consumers also tend to choose more sustainable modes of transport, but the correlation is weak. Overall, more carbon intensive, unsustainable consumption patterns can be expected as households move up the socioeconomic ladder. While the middle classes score fairly highly on the measurement scales of environmental concern and knowledge, education, savings and income security matter more to them in day-to-day life. For prospective sustainable consumption policies, our results imply that more action that draws on behavioural insights is needed to overcome the knowledge–action gap.