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Luna Bellani (University of Konstanz)

24 February 2022 @ 14:00 - 15:30


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24 February 2022
14:00 - 15:30
Event Category:
Academic Events

“The Political Fallout of Air Pollution”

Abstract. We study the effect of air pollution on voting outcomes. We use data from 64 federal and state elections in Germany between 2000-2018 and exploit plausibly exogenous fluctuations in ambient air pollution within counties across election dates. Higher air pollution shifts votes away from incumbent parties and towards opposition parties. An increase in the concentration of PM10 by 10μg/m3 – around two within-county standard deviations – reduces the vote share of incumbent parties by 2 percentage points, which is equivalent to 4% of the mean vote share. We generalize these findings by documenting similar effects with data from a weekly opinion poll and a large-scale panel survey.  We provide further evidence that emotions are a likely mechanism: the survey data show that poor air quality leads to greater anxiety and unhappiness, which may reduce the support for the political status quo.

Overall, these results suggest that poor air quality affects decision-making in the population at-large, which has far-reaching knock-on effects on society.

Joint work with S. Ceolotto, B. Elsner and N. Pestel