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The Geography of Fear

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  • Daniel Treisman

Abstract

Whether the danger invoked is nuclear war or genetically modified foods, far more people in some countries than in others say they are afraid. Using data from six surveys, I show that the levels of reported fear of different dangers correlate strongly across both individuals and countries. I construct indexes of fearfulness for 15-25 countries and map the prevalence of fear in Western Europe. About two thirds of the crossnational variation within Europe can be explained by differences in pessimism--the degree to which respondents exaggerate the likelihood of disasters. Among the countries for which I have data, the most robust correlates of fearfulness relate to countries' religious traditions. Fear tends to be higher in countries where more people believe in Hell and where fewer believe in Heaven.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel Treisman, 2011. "The Geography of Fear," NBER Working Papers 16838, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16838
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2008. "Economic Growth and Subjective Well-Being: Reassessing the Easterlin Paradox," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 39(1 (Spring), pages 1-102.
    2. Stanislav Kolenikov & Gustavo Angeles, 2009. "Socioeconomic Status Measurement With Discrete Proxy Variables: Is Principal Component Analysis A Reliable Answer?," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 55(1), pages 128-165, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:kap:pubcho:v:173:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11127-017-0477-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Vladimir Gimpelson & Aleksey Oshchepkov, 2012. "Does more unemployment cause more fear of unemployment?," IZA Journal of Labor & Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 1(1), pages 1-26, December.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General
    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion

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