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Photo: Tomas Bergman
Simon Matti is professor in Political Science at Luleå University of Technology. Photo: Tomas Bergman View original picture , opens in new tab/window

Swedes prefer subsidized night trains over air taxes

Published: 3 June 2020

Swedes prefer biofuel requirements, subsidies for night trains as well as requirements for climate declaration of aviation over taxes and limiting the flying of individuals. This is stated in a recently published research report on policy measures in aviation. One of the co-authors of the report is Simon Matti, professor of political science at Luleå University of Technology.

“A lot of research has been done on acceptance of policy measures with regard to other consumption. But the acceptance of policy measures for air travel is relatively unexplored, says Simon Matti."

Right-wingers more negative to policy measures

The results show that the background variables governing the acceptance of various policy measures in air traffic are almost identical to the acceptance of policy measures in other environmental areas. Consequently, those who identify themselves as ideologically right tend to be more negatively attuned to policy measures than those who identify as leftist. However, the acceptance of market-based policy measures is relatively higher than other forms of policies among the right-wing.

Another important variable is trust in public institutions. Higher confidence correlates with higher acceptance for policy measures. Furthermore, those who have a positive perception of the consequences of a particular means of control also tend to have a high acceptance of it. Personal involvement also affects; anyone who identifies as a climate activist or climate skeptic has greater or lesser acceptance respectively of policy measures.

Women somewhat more positive to policy measures

However, the study failed to demonstrate any effect of policy measures that were perceived to limit personal freedom of action. It is the image of how the instrument restricts the freedom of action of others that affects acceptance, i.e. if the instrument is perceived to affect certain groups in an unfair way. The researchers were also unable to demonstrate any significant effect from demographic variables such as age, income and education. There was a weak significance for gender, where women are somewhat more positive about air traffic control than men.

“All in all, it can be said that the background variables that have an effect on the acceptance of different policy measures in other environmental areas have the same effect on the acceptance of air traffic control. Another general conclusion that can be drawn is that there is a greater acceptance for policy measures that do not affect the individual, such as subsidies for night trains and biofuel requirements, above, for example, environmental taxes and limiting individual individuals' air travel, says Simon Matti.”


Simon Matti has conducted the study together with Jörgen Larsson and Jonas Nässén,  researchers in physical resource theory at Chalmers University of Technology. The research results are published in an article in the journal Climate Policy. The project has been funded by Mistra Sustainable Consumption and VINNOVA.