The Effect of the Fukushima Accident on Nuclear Policy Preferences in Sweden An natural experiment introducing geographical proximity as a determinant of public response to a nuclear crisis
The Fukushima accident from March 2011 in Japan appears to have had global implications for nuclear policy response and public reaction. This paper examines the impact of the disaster on nuclear attitudes in Sweden, a country which repeatedly revised its nuclear policy over the last decades. In a time of nuclear renaissance, it is important to understand the development of nuclear support which might have implications for the future nuclear policy of the country. The paper utilizes individual survey data capturing attitudes before and after the accident. It further applies a natural experiment methodology to control for geographical proximity to a nuclear plant as a determinant of nuclear support and public response in the aftermath of a nuclear crisis. Empirical findings suggest a negative and highly significant effect of Fukushima, but contrary to general beliefs the disaster had very limited effect on people living in the vicinity of nuclear plants in Sweden. Additionally, the study evaluates mechanisms through which the accident may have affected public opinion, e.g. subjective risk, economic, environmental and social priorities, knowledge and socio-demographic characteristics.