July 30, 2008 / 3:53 PM / 11 years ago

Economy tops environment in hard times: poll

U.S. dollar bills are displayed in Toronto March 26, 2008. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Americans who once saw being green and growing richer as equally important are opting for economic growth over environmental protection as they struggle with money woes, a poll showed.

More than three in five Americans believe that economic growth and development is more important, while just one quarter believe protecting the environment is the top priority, according to the survey by Harris Interactive.

“The focus on economic growth has grown over the last year. In June of 2007, Americans were more divided as 48 percent thought economic growth was more important and 43 percent believed protecting the environment was more important,” Harris said in a statement.

The online poll of 1,009 adults also showed that 56 percent believe the quality of life in their communities will worsen for their children and grandchildren.

“As the economic woes continue, anything that places the economy versus something else will see economy most likely winning the battle,” Harris said, while adding that many do not see a hard trade off between economic development and environmental protection.

But across the border in Canada attitudes were different.

Forty-five percent of Canadians said economic growth was most important while 44 percent chose the environment.

“One area Canadians agree with Americans on is the quality of life in their region for children and grandchildren as 56 percent of Canadians say it will decrease and 44 percent believe it will increase,” Harris said.

Reporting by Ritsuko Ando

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