We exploit the random variation in health patterns across European regions that resulted from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster to provide new quasi-experimental evidence on the causal effect of health patterns on social capital. Our instrumental variable estimations show that the radioactive fallout is positively associated with an increase in hospital discharges after treatment for neoplasms almost thirty years later, the magnitude of the effect being in line with other studies investigating the health effects of low-dose radiation exposure. An increased incidence of neoplasms in the local area of residence induced by the radioactive fallout, and the resulting perception of higher risks of contracting potentially deadly diseases among the healthy population, generates a sizeable impoverishment of social capital and a reduction in social interactions, altruism and happiness. Our findings suggest that health care and prevention policies may have additional returns in terms of a significant increase in communities’ social capital.

Radioactive Decay, Health and Social Capital: Lessons From The Chernobyl Experiment

Luca Nunziata
2022

Abstract

We exploit the random variation in health patterns across European regions that resulted from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster to provide new quasi-experimental evidence on the causal effect of health patterns on social capital. Our instrumental variable estimations show that the radioactive fallout is positively associated with an increase in hospital discharges after treatment for neoplasms almost thirty years later, the magnitude of the effect being in line with other studies investigating the health effects of low-dose radiation exposure. An increased incidence of neoplasms in the local area of residence induced by the radioactive fallout, and the resulting perception of higher risks of contracting potentially deadly diseases among the healthy population, generates a sizeable impoverishment of social capital and a reduction in social interactions, altruism and happiness. Our findings suggest that health care and prevention policies may have additional returns in terms of a significant increase in communities’ social capital.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11577/3443665
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