Social and Environmental Influences on Endangered Species: A Cross-National Study


environment, endangered species, neo-Malthusian, world-systems theory, economy


Although there have been general social, economic, and environmental hypotheses developed to explain the distribution of endangered species across the globe, there is a paucity of social science literature designed to specify these hypotheses in more detail or test them with comparative, national-level data. This study draws on several models form environmental sociology to specify conceptually the relationship between social and economic factors and rates of endangered mammals and birds. Specifically, I developed hypotheses based on neo-Malthusian, ecological modernization, treadmill of production, and world-systems theory and analyzed data on endangered species, population, land use, economic size and growth, energy use, and industrial pollutants form one hundred twenty nations. The results support ecological modernization's position that there is an inverted U-shaped relationship between GDP per capita and endangerment rates, but they also indicate that GDP growth is associated with a monotonic increase in these rates, thus supporting a treadmill of production argument. Yet these relationships vary by world-systems position. Endangerment rates in peripheral nations are affected more by GDP growth, whereas rates in semi peripheral nations are affected more by deforestation, GDP per capita, and growth in energy use per capita.

Original Publication Citation

Hoffmann, John P. 2004. “Social and Environmental Influences on Endangered Species: A Cross-National Study.” Sociological Perspectives 47(1): 79-107.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Sociological Perspectives




Family, Home, and Social Sciences



University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor