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Business Cycle Effects On Concern About Climate Change: The Chilling Effect Of Recession



    () (UCLA Institute of the Environment, La Kretz Hall, Suite 300, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA)


    () (Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, 195 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT 06511, USA)


This paper uses two different sources of data to investigate the association between the business cycle — measured with unemployment rates — and public concern about climate change. 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 climate change. We also examine how socio-demographic characteristics affect opinions about whether climate change is happening and whether government should take action. Beyond providing the first empirical estimates of macroeconomic effects on concern about climate change, we discuss the results in terms of the potential impact on environmental policy and understanding the full cost of recessions.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthew E. Kahn & Matthew J. Kotchen, 2011. "Business Cycle Effects On Concern About Climate Change: The Chilling Effect Of Recession," Climate Change Economics (CCE), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 2(03), pages 257-273.
  • Handle: RePEc:wsi:ccexxx:v:02:y:2011:i:03:n:s2010007811000292
    DOI: 10.1142/S2010007811000292

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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. The Complex Relationship between Income and GHG Emissions
      by Matthew Kahn in Environmental and Urban Economics on 2017-07-14 22:02:00


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    1. repec:eee:ecolec:v:144:y:2018:i:c:p:27-35 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Siqi Zheng & Matthew E. Kahn & Weizeng Sun & Danglun Luo, 2013. "Incentivizing China's Urban Mayors to Mitigate Pollution Externalities: The Role of the Central Government and Public Environmentalism," NBER Working Papers 18872, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. repec:spr:climat:v:151:y:2018:i:3:d:10.1007_s10584-018-2330-z is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Zheng, Siqi & Kahn, Matthew E. & Sun, Weizeng & Luo, Danglun, 2014. "Incentives for China's urban mayors to mitigate pollution externalities: The role of the central government and public environmentalism," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 61-71.
    5. repec:spr:climat:v:149:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s10584-018-2223-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:spr:jenvss:v:8:y:2018:i:3:d:10.1007_s13412-017-0452-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Ziegler, Andreas, 2015. "On the relevance of ideology and environmental values for climate change beliefs, climate policy support, and climate protection activities: An empirical cross country analysis," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 112918, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    8. Matthew B. Arbuckle & David M. Konisky, 2015. "The Role of Religion in Environmental Attitudes," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1244-1263, November.

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