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Weather, Salience of Climate Change and Congressional Voting

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  • Herrnstadt, Evan

    (University of MI)

  • Muehlegger, Erich

    (Harvard University)

Abstract

Climate change is a complex long-run phenomenon. The speed and severity with which it is occurring is difficult to observe, complicating the formation of beliefs for individuals. We use Google Insights search intensity data as a proxy for the salience of climate change and examine how search patterns vary with unusual local weather. We find that searches for "climate change" and "global warming" increase with extreme temperatures and unusual lack of snow. The responsiveness to weather shocks is greater in states that are more reliant on climate-sensitive industries and that elect more environmentally-favorable congressional delegations. Furthermore, we demonstrate that effects of abnormal weather extend beyond search behavior to observable action on environmental issues. We examine the voting records of members of the U.S. Congress from 2004 to 2011 and find that members are more likely to take a pro-environment stance on votes when their home-state experiences unusual weather.

Suggested Citation

  • Herrnstadt, Evan & Muehlegger, Erich, 2013. "Weather, Salience of Climate Change and Congressional Voting," Working Paper Series rwp13-023, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp13-023
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. George J. Stigler, 1971. "The Theory of Economic Regulation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 2(1), pages 3-21, Spring.
    2. Levitt, Steven D, 1996. "How Do Senators Vote? Disentangling the Role of Voter Preferences, Party Affiliation, and Senate Ideology," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 425-441, June.
    3. Anwar Hussain & David Laband, 2005. "The tragedy of the political commons: Evidence from U.S. Senate roll call votes on environmental legislation," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 124(3), pages 353-364, September.
    4. Andreas Madestam & Daniel Shoag & Stan Veuger & David Yanagizawa-Drott, 2013. "Do Political Protests Matter? Evidence from the Tea Party Movement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(4), pages 1633-1685.
    5. Ann L. Owen & Emily Conover & Julio Videras & Stephen Wu, 2012. "Heat Waves, Droughts, and Preferences for Environmental Policy," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 31(3), pages 556-577, June.
    6. Kalt, Joseph P & Zupan, Mark A, 1984. "Capture and Ideology in the Economic Theory of Politics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 279-300, June.
    7. Matthew E. Kahn, 2002. "Demographic change and the demand for environmental regulation," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(1), pages 45-62.
    8. Tatyana Deryugina, 2013. "How do people update? The effects of local weather fluctuations on beliefs about global warming," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 118(2), pages 397-416, May.
    9. Peltzman, Sam, 1976. "Toward a More General Theory of Regulation," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(2), pages 211-240, August.
    10. Matthew E. Kahn & Matthew J. Kotchen, 2010. "Environmental Concern and the Business Cycle: The Chilling Effect of Recession," NBER Working Papers 16241, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Antony Millner & Hélène Ollivier, 2016. "Beliefs, Politics, and Environmental Policy," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 10(2), pages 226-244.
    2. repec:kap:compec:v:51:y:2018:i:3:d:10.1007_s10614-016-9622-z is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Andreas Ziegler, 2015. "On the relevance of ideological identification and environmental values for beliefs and attitudes toward climate change: An empirical cross country analysis," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201516, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    4. repec:eee:eneeco:v:63:y:2017:i:c:p:144-153 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. 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.
    6. Corey Lang & John David Ryder, 2016. "The effect of tropical cyclones on climate change engagement," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 135(3), pages 625-638, April.

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