How Natural Disasters Can Affect Environmental Concerns, Risk Aversion, and Even Politics: Evidence from Fukushima and Three European Countries

70 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2015

See all articles by Jan Goebel

Jan Goebel

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) - SOEP

Christian Krekel

Paris School of Economics (PSE); Centre for Economic Performance (CEP), London School of Economics (LSE); World Bank

Tim Tiefenbach

German Institute for Japanese Studies

Nicolas R. Ziebarth

Cornell University

Date Written: June 2015

Abstract

We study the impact of the Fukushima disaster on environmental concerns, well-being, risk aversion, and political preferences in Germany, Switzerland, and the UK. In these countries, overall life satisfaction did not significantly decrease, but the disaster significantly increased environmental concerns among Germans. One underlying mechanism likely operated through the perceived risk of a similar meltdown of domestic reactors. After Fukushima, more Germans considered themselves as “very risk averse”. However, drastic German policy action shut down the oldest reactors, implemented the phaseout of the remaining ones, and proclaimed the transition to renewables. This shift in energy policy contributed to the subsequent decrease in environmental concerns, particularly among women, Green party supporters, and people living in close distance to the oldest reactors. In Germany, political support for the Greens increased significantly, whereas in Switzerland and the UK, this increase was limited to people living close to reactors.

Keywords: Fukushima, nuclear phase-out, environmental concerns, well-being, risk aversion, Green party

JEL Classification: I18, I31, Q54

Suggested Citation

Goebel, Jan and Krekel, Christian and Tiefenbach, Tim and Ziebarth, Nicolas R., How Natural Disasters Can Affect Environmental Concerns, Risk Aversion, and Even Politics: Evidence from Fukushima and Three European Countries (June 2015). SOEPpaper No. 762, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2623499 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2623499

Jan Goebel (Contact Author)

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) - SOEP ( email )

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Christian Krekel

Paris School of Economics (PSE)

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France

HOME PAGE: http://www.parisschoolofeconomics.eu/en/

Centre for Economic Performance (CEP), London School of Economics (LSE)

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United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/

World Bank

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Tim Tiefenbach

German Institute for Japanese Studies ( email )

Tokyo, Chiyoda-ku 102-0074
Japan

Nicolas R. Ziebarth

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.human.cornell.edu/bio.cfm?netid=nrz2

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