Ben Elsner: The Political Fallout of Air Pollution (Online)

FBK-IRVAPP is pleased to invite you to the following seminar: The Political Fallout of Air Pollution .


With the participation of Ben Elsner, University College Dublin.


The seminar is held in English.


This paper studies the effect of air pollution on voting outcomes. We use data from 60 federal and state elections in Germany from 2000 to 2018 and exploit plausibly exogenous fluctuations in ambient air pollution within counties across election dates. Higher air pollution on election day shifts votes away from incumbent parties and towards opposition parties. An increase in the concentration of particulate matter (PM10) by 10μg/m3 – around two within-county standard deviations – reduces the vote share of incumbent parties by two percentage points, which is equivalent to 4% of the mean vote share. We generalize these findings by documenting similar effects with data from a weekly opinion poll and a large-scale panel survey. We provide further evidence that emotions are a likely mechanism: the survey data show that poor air quality leads to greater anxiety and unhappiness, which may reduce the support for the political status quo. Overall, these results suggest that poor air quality affects decision-making in the population at-large, which has far-reaching knock-on effects on society.


Guest Speakers

  • University College Dublin
    Ben Elsner is an assistant professor at University College Dublin. He is an applied microeconomist with research interests in migration, economics of education, and environmental economics. Ben's work has been published in the Economic Journal, Journal of Labor Economics, Journal of Human Resources, among others. He holds a PhD from Trinity College Dublin. Before joining UCD, Ben worked as a Senior Research Associate at IZA in Bonn/Germany.


Registration to this event is mandatory.

Registration closed on 03/05/2023.

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