Does work-life balance affect pro-environmental behaviour? Evidence for the UK using longitudinal microdata

Publication type

Journal Article

Published in

Ecological Economics


Patricia C. Melo, Jiaqi Ge, Tony Craig, Mark J. Brewer and Ines Thronicker

Publication date


The environmental challenges we face today have made the need to behave pro-environmentally increasingly salient. Many believe that the modern day “busyness” of life and lack of spare time have kept people from acting according to their values and behaving more pro-environmentally. This study uses microdata from the UK Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS) to investigate the relation between pro-environmental behaviour, environmental self-perception and work-life balance. Pro-environmental behaviour covers 21 behaviours relating to home energy, personal transport, recycling and shopping. Work-life balance is defined with relation to the availability of discretionary time using both objective and subjective measures. The results from the regression models of overall pro-environmental behaviour suggest that work-life imbalance does not appear to affect, neither directly nor indirectly through environmental values and attitudes, pro-environmental behaviour. The main factors determining the extent of pro-environmental behaviour relate to individual's attitudes towards the environment, age, educational attainment, household income and the presence of young children. The sensitivity analysis looking at differing time demanding behaviours reveals that actual availability of discretionary time does not seem to affect pro-environmental behaviour, while the subjective experience of work-life imbalance can have a negative direct effect particularly for more time demanding pro-environmental behaviours.

Volume and page numbers

145, 170-181





Environmental Sociology, Psychology, Time Use, Labour Market, Households and Social Attitudes