Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 300–311 | Cite as

The impact of unemployment and economic risk perceptions on attitudes towards anthropogenic climate change

  • Salil D. BenegalEmail author


This study uses public opinion data from 2006 to 2014 to examine the effect of unemployment and partisan identity on attitudes towards anthropogenic climate change. Results show that while Republican partisanship and conservative ideology are strongly associated with lower reported belief in anthropogenic climate change, these attitudes are also shaped by subjective perceptions of economic risk and increased local unemployment rates. I find that exposure to economic risk increases the likelihood of climate change denial among both Democrats and Republicans. These findings help explain trends in environmental public opinion over the past decade, in particular the increase in reported denial or skepticism about climate change after the 2008 economic recession.


Climate change Polarization Public opinion Unemployment 



I thank Thomas Hayes, Paul Herrnson, Lyle Scruggs, Matthew Singer, Gabriela Tafoya, Todd Vachon, and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on earlier drafts.


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© AESS 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceDePauw UniversityGreencastleUSA

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