October 2013

IZA DP No. 7691: Natural Disaster, Policy Action, and Mental Well-Being: The Case of Fukushima

published as 'How Natural Disasters Can Affect Environmental Concerns, Risk Aversion, and Even Politics: Evidence from Fukushima and Three European Countries' in: Journal of Population Economics, 2015, 28(4), 1137-1180

We study the impact of the Fukushima disaster on people's mental well-being in another industrialized country, more than 5000 miles distant. The meltdown significantly increased environmental concerns by 20% among the German population. Subsequent drastic policy action permanently shut down the oldest nuclear reactors, implemented the phase-out of the remaining ones, and proclaimed the transition to renewables. This energy policy turnaround is largely supported by the population and equalized the increase in mental distress. We estimate that during the 3 months after the meltdown, Fukushima triggered external monetized health costs worth €250 per distressed citizen – particularly among risk averse women.