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Well-being effects of a major natural disaster: The case of Fukushima

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  • Rehdanz, Katrin
  • Welsch, Heinz
  • Narita, Daiju
  • Okubo, Toshihiro

Abstract

Based on a quasi-experimental difference-in-differences approach, we use panel data for 5979 individuals interviewed in Japan before and after the tsunami and nuclear accident at Fukushima to analyze the effects of the combined disaster on people's subjective well-being. To conduct our analysis, we use Geographical Information Systems to merge the subjective well-being data with information on respondents’ distance from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, their proximity to nuclear power stations in general, and the spatial distribution of radioactive fallout after the accident. Our main findings are as follows: (1) After the disaster, people living in a place affected by the tsunami or close to the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant experienced a drop in life happiness, while the effects declined with distance to the place of the disaster. (2) No change in subjective well-being is detectable in people living close to nuclear facilities in general. (3) In contrast to happiness with life after the disaster, no effect on people's happiness with their entire life can be found among those affected by the disaster. (4) The drop in life happiness in municipalities affected by the tsunami is equivalent to 72% of annual income and reaches 240% for those living in close distance to the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant (≤150km).

Suggested Citation

  • Rehdanz, Katrin & Welsch, Heinz & Narita, Daiju & Okubo, Toshihiro, 2015. "Well-being effects of a major natural disaster: The case of Fukushima," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 500-517.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:116:y:2015:i:c:p:500-517
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2015.05.014
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    Cited by:

    1. Yamamura, Eiji, 2016. "Impact of the Fukushima nuclear accident on obesity of children in Japan (2008–2014)," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 21(C), pages 110-121.
    2. Young-Il Kim & Dongyoung Kim, 2016. "Mental Health Cost Of Terrorism: Study Of The Charlie Hebdo Attack In Paris," Working Papers 1613, Research Institute for Market Economy, Sogang University.
    3. Welsch, Heinz & Biermann, Philipp, 2016. "Measuring nuclear power plant externalities using life satisfaction data: A spatial analysis for Switzerland," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 98-111.
    4. Giovanni Gualtieri & Marcella Nicolini & Fabio Sabatini & Luca Zamparelli, 2018. "Natural Disasters and Demand for Redistribution: Lessons from an Earthquake," Working Papers 2018.15, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    5. Rehdanz, Katrin & Schröder, Carsten & Narita, Daiju & Okubo, Toshihiro, 2017. "Public preferences for alternative electricity mixes in post-Fukushima Japan," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 262-270.
    6. Contu, Davide & Strazzera, Elisabetta & Mourato, Susana, 2016. "Modeling individual preferences for energy sources: The case of IV generation nuclear energy in Italy," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 37-58.
    7. Tim Tiefenbach & Florian Kohlbacher, 2015. "Happiness in Japan in Times of Upheaval: Empirical Evidence from the National Survey on Lifestyle Preferences," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 333-366, April.
    8. Welsch, Heinz & Ferreira, Susana, 2014. "Environment, Well-Being, and Experienced Preference," International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics, now publishers, vol. 7(3-4), pages 205-239, December.
    9. repec:eee:japwor:v:44:y:2017:i:c:p:1-13 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Coupe, Tom & Obrizan, Maksym, 2016. "The impact of war on happiness: The case of Ukraine," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 132(PA), pages 228-242.
    11. Jan Goebel & Christian Krekel & Tim Tiefenbach & Nicolas Ziebarth, 2015. "How natural disasters can affect environmental concerns, risk aversion, and even politics: evidence from Fukushima and three European countries," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 28(4), pages 1137-1180, October.
    12. Felix Richter & Malte Steenbeck & Markus Wilhelm, 2013. "Nuclear Accidents and Policy: Notes on Public Perception," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 590, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    13. repec:aen:journl:ej38-3-welsch is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Zhang, Xin & Zhang, Xiaobo & Chen, Xi, 2017. "Happiness in the air: How does a dirty sky affect mental health and subjective well-being?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 81-94.
    15. Yamamura, Eiji, 2015. "Impact of the Fukushima nuclear accident on obesity of children in Japan, using data from 2008 to 2014," MPRA Paper 67076, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    16. Welsch, Heinz, 2016. "Electricity Externalities, Siting, and the Energy Mix: A Survey," International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics, now publishers, vol. 10(1), pages 57-94, November.
    17. Ahmadiani, Mona & Ferreira, Susana, 2018. "Well-being Effects of Extreme Weather Events in the United States," 2018 Annual Meeting, August 5-7, Washington, D.C. 274433, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    18. SUGANO Saki, 2015. "The Well-Being of Elderly Survivors after Natural Disasters: Measuring the impact of the Great East Japan Earthquake," Discussion papers 15069, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    19. Eiji Yamamura, 2015. "Impact of the Fukushima nuclear accident on the body mass index of children in Japan 2010-2014," ISER Discussion Paper 0941, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
    20. Tiefenbach, Tim & Kohlbacher, Florian, 2015. "Disasters, donations, and tax law changes: Disentangling effects on subjective well-being by exploiting a natural experiment," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 94-112.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Fukushima; Subjective well-being; Natural disaster; Nuclear accident; Difference-in-differences; Willingness to pay;

    JEL classification:

    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
    • Q51 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Valuation of Environmental Effects
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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