Do natural disasters help the environment? How voters respond and what that means
Leonardo Baccini and
Political Science Research and Methods, 2021, vol. 9, issue 3, 468-484
This paper examines whether voters’ experience of extreme weather events such as flooding increases voting in favor of climate protection measures. While the large majority of individuals do not hold consistent opinions on climate issues, we argue that the experience of natural disasters can prime voters on climate change and affect political behavior. Using micro-level geospatial data on natural disasters, we exploit referendum votes in Switzerland, which allows us to obtain a behavioral rather than attitudinal measure of support for policies tackling climate change. Our findings indicate a sizeable effect for pro-climate voting after experiencing a flood: vote-share supporting pro-climate policies can increase by 20 percent. Our findings contribute to the literature exploring the impact of local conditions on electoral behavior.
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