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The long-run consequences of Chernobyl: Evidence on subjective well-being, mental health and welfare

Alexander Danzer () and Natalia Danzer ()

Journal of Public Economics, 2016, vol. 135, issue C, 47-60

Abstract: This paper assesses the long-run toll taken by a large-scale technological disaster on welfare, well-being and mental health. We estimate the causal effect of the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe after 20years by linking geographic variation in radioactive fallout to respondents of a nationally representative survey in Ukraine according to their place of residence in 1986. We exclude individuals who were exposed to high levels of radiation—about 4% of the population. Instead, we focus on the remaining majority of Ukrainians who received subclinical radiation doses; we find large and persistent psychological effects of this nuclear disaster. Affected individuals exhibit poorer subjective well-being, higher depression rates and lower subjective survival probabilities; they rely more on governmental transfers as source of subsistence. We estimate the aggregate annual welfare loss at 2–6% of Ukraine's GDP highlighting previously ignored externalities of large-scale catastrophes.

Keywords: Chernobyl; Nuclear catastrophe; Externality; Subjective well-being; Mental health; Depression; Transfer dependency; Welfare loss; Natural experiment (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D62 H12 I18 I31 Q51 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016
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Related works:
Working Paper: The Long-Run Consequences of Chernobyl: Evidence on Subjective Well-Being, Mental Health and Welfare (2014) Downloads
Working Paper: The Long-Run Consequences of Chernobyl: Evidence on Subjective Well-Being, Mental Health and Welfare (2014) Downloads
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:135:y:2016:i:c:p:47-60

DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2016.01.001

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