Trouble on my mind: the effect of catastrophic events on people’s worries

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Major economic, environmental, or social shocks induce uncertainty, which in turn
may impact economic development and may require institutional change. Based
on the idea that catastrophic events (CEs) affect people’s perceptions of reality and
judgments about the future, this paper analyzes the effect of CEs on people’s worries
in terms of social, economic, and environmental issues. In particular, we consider
the terrorist attack 9/11 in 2001, the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008, and
the nuclear disaster in Fukushima in 2011. We propose two possible mechanisms:
A CE in one sphere may affect people’s worries in general (“spillover”) or it may
lead to people focusing on that sphere and being less worried about other spheres
(“crowding out”). We argue that the determinants of the mechanisms are related to
the type of CE, that a person’s professional background moderates the influence of a
CE on his or her worries, and that the subsequent development of worries is affected
by whether institutional responses are contested. The analysis is based on longitudinal
data of the German Socio-Economic Panel.
ZeitschriftEmpirical Economics
Anzahl der Seiten25
PublikationsstatusElektronische Veröffentlichung vor Drucklegung - 03.04.2019


  • Betriebswirtschaftslehre - Catastrophic event, Institutional change, Social, Environmental, Worries, Professional background, GSOEP, Spillover, Crowding out, Panel data