To date, we have little evidence of what motivates environmental concern in developing countries.  We argue that citizen vulnerability to environmental changes and extractivism is instrumental in shaping environmental concern in developing areas.  First, we claim that vulnerability to environmental change greatly enhances concern over the environment.  Second, consistent with some of the resource curse literature, we argue that a respondent’s location on the extractive frontier (i.e. whether they live in an area where extraction is under consideration) will also increase their environmental concern.  Third, in line with new research on democratic developmental states, we argue that environmental concern may be politically-motivated when extractivism is viewed as incompatible with sustainable development.  The multinational nature of the extractivsim, largely by Chinese parastatal companies, may also contribute to fears about extractivism, although that remains to be tested empirically.  Our analysis of an original survey of Ecuadorian citizens strongly supports our hypotheses.  We further support our findings using qualitative evidence from in-depth interviews with government and community leaders in Ecuador and conclude that attitudes based on self-interest rather than normative values may be easier for policymakers to draw upon in devising policy reforms.

Professor Eisenstadt's research focuses on the intersection of formal institutions and laws with informal institutions and practices, mostly in democratizing countries in Latin America. He is presently PI (along with Karleen West) of a United States National Science Foundation (NSF) project "Lawsuits for the Pacha Mama [Mother Earth] in Ecuador: Explaining the Determinants of New Indigenous Movements to Mitigate Environmental Impacts." Using a survey conducted with Ecuadorian partners, he and his co-author are studying poor, rural, indigenous communities to understand how they overcome socioeconomic and geographic barriers to launch new forms of social movements relying on Western science and international collaboration. The project stems from an earlier book, Politics, Identity, and Mexico's Indigenous Rights Movements (Cambridge University Press, 2011).  Eisenstadt is on the editorial board of Comparative Political Studies and Latin American Politics and Society, and serves as an executive committee member of the International Studies Association’s Environmental Studies Section. A delegate to the 2015 and 2016 meetings of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change Convention meetings, he also serves on the American Political Science Association’s International Committee and consults regularly as an evaluator of international development programs, including in the climate change area.