ECONOMIC SIDE EFFECTS

People’s opinions about some public policies can be influenced by how they think those policies will impact the economy. And proposed efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by changing how electricity is produced, used, and managed has the potential to affect the economy in many different sectors.

We have explored whether Americans’ support for emissions reduction policies is limited in part because of aversion to undesirable and unintended economic side effects of these policies.

IMPACT ON JOBS AND THE ECONOMY

In fact, only minorities of Americans have believed that global warming mitigation efforts will negatively affect the economy.

As shown in the figure below, about one quarter of respondents from 2009 to 2020 (with some variation over the years) believed that government actions on global warming will hurt the U.S. economy.


Question wording can be found here.

With percentages hovering at about 50% since November 2009, pluralities of people have said that such actions will instead help the economy, with 47% of Americans believing this in 2020.


Question wording can be found here.

Even as unemployment climbed to 9.8% in November 2010, people did not become more likely to see potential government action on global warming as causing problems for job availability. Many more people believed that action on global warming will actually increase the number of jobs in the country (48% in 2010) than believed the opposite (18%) (see the following two figures). In 2020, 40% of Americans thought taking action on global warming would increase the number of jobs in the U.S., compared to 20% who believed it would decrease the number of jobs.


Question wording can be found here.

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Question wording can be found here.

When respondents were asked about their states of residence, in 2010 45% felt that there will be more jobs in their state as a result of possible global warming actions, and 48% thought it will help their state economy. In 2020, these numbers were 37% and 48%, respectively.


Question wording can be found here.


Question wording can be found here.

IMPACT ON PERSONAL FINANCES

In 2020, respondents were asked about how the government taking action on global warming might affect them personally. This was measured in two ways: their personal wealth and their prospects for a good-paying job.

With regards to the former, 20% of Americans believed that taking action of global warming would result in them having less money, compared to 11% who believed that it would cause them to have more money.


Question wording can be found here.

Conversely, more Americans felt that the government taking action on global warming would increase the likelihood that they would be able to find a good-paying job (17%) than decrease it (12%).


Question wording can be found here.