Facing the Hard Truth: Evidence from Climate Change Ignorance
Title: Facing the Hard Truth: Evidence from Climate Change Ignorance (Pamela Campa – Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics and CEPR, Ferenc Szucs – Stockholm University)
Abstract: Public ignorance around climate change remains high in many countries, including the United States, where in 2020 only 72% of adults reported to believe that global warming is happening. In this paper, we show that information avoidance aimed at protecting identity contributes at explaining climate ignorance. Exploiting mass-layoffs of coal miners in the US and a difference-in-differences design we find that climate ignorance shrinks less in counties affected by the layoffs as compared to other coal-mining counties. An instrumental variable strategy that uses geographic variation in gas prices to predict mine closures strongly suggests that the layoffs causally impact beliefs about climate change. We also employ a triple difference-in-differences strategy that compares layoffs from coal and metal mines to understand the underlying causes of persistent climate change ignorance in communities experiencing layoffs. Our triple difference results confirm that information avoidance is specific to coal-mining communities suggesting that protecting identity plays an important role.