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Observing traumatic events: Indirect effects of flood shocks on well-being and preferences

Autor: Wiebke Stein and Reinhard A. Weisser
Nummer: 678, Nov 2020, pp. 34
JEL-Class: I31; Q51; R23

This paper investigates how witnessing adverse weather events affects individuals' perceptions and consequently their personal well-being. To identify potential exposure to a weather shock, we link satellite-based data on flooding to an extensive household panel survey from rural Southeast Asia. We find that mere proximity to a potentially adverse shock, even without reporting any actual experience of the shock, can be sufficient to reduce individual well-being levels. This effect is not only restricted to the present but can also impinge on expected future well-being dynamics. Such a persistent distortionary effect from witnessing a weather shock may also have politico-economic repercussions by, for instance, altering support for redistributive policies.


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