Environmental Concern and the Business Cycle: The Chilling Effect of Recession

30 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2010

See all articles by Matthew E. Kahn

Matthew E. Kahn

University of Southern California; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Matthew J. Kotchen

Yale University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: July 2010

Abstract

This paper uses three different sources of data to investigate the association between the business cycle--measured with unemployment rates--and environmental concern. Building on recent research that finds internet search terms to be useful predictors of health epidemics and economic activity, we find that an increase in a state's unemployment rate decreases Google searches for "global warming" and increases searches for "unemployment," and that the effect differs according to a state's political ideology. From national surveys, we find that an increase in a state's unemployment rate is associated with a decrease in the probability that residents think global warming is happening and reduced support for the U.S to target policies intended to mitigate global warming. Finally, in California, we find that an increase in a county's unemployment rate is associated with a significant decrease in county residents choosing the environment as the most important policy issue. Beyond providing the first empirical estimates of macroeconomic effects on environmental concern, we discuss the results in terms of the potential impact on environmental policy and understanding the full cost of recessions.

Suggested Citation

Kahn, Matthew E. and Kotchen, Matthew J., Environmental Concern and the Business Cycle: The Chilling Effect of Recession (July 2010). NBER Working Paper No. w16241. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1651425

Matthew E. Kahn (Contact Author)

University of Southern California ( email )

2250 Alcazar Street
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Matthew J. Kotchen

Yale University ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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