The Chernobyl Disaster, Concern about the Environment, and Life Satisfaction


  • Eva M. Berger

    1. German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin), Mohrenstr
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    • * German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin), Mohrenstr. 58, 10117 Berlin, Germany. E-mail: I am grateful to Andrew Clark, Daniela Glocker, Florian Köhler, and Gert G. Wagner for helpful comments on an earlier draft of this paper. All errors are my own responsibility.


The purpose of this paper is to investigate the impact of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster on satisfaction with life and on concern about the environment. Using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study and identifying the exogenous event through the exact date of occurance, I find that concern about the environment sharply increased immediately after the incident. However, there is no effect on individuals' satisfaction with life in general. This suggests that, though people in Germany were aware of the severity of the incident, the concept of life satisfaction reflects a rather personal perspective on life.