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The Geography of Fear

  • Daniel Treisman

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.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16838.

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Date of creation: Feb 2011
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16838
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  1. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2008. "Economic Growth and Subjective Well-Being: Reassessing the Easterlin Paradox," NBER Working Papers 14282, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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, 03.
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