NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Fear of Nuclear War and Intercountry Differences in the Rate of Saving

Joel Slemrod

NBER Working Paper No. 2801
Issued in December 1988
NBER Program(s):   PE

This paper demonstrates that a survey-based measure of the perceived likelihood of nuclear war in a country is negatively correlated with the country's rate of net private saving, holding other determinants of saving constant. This result is established using date on twenty OECD countries for the period 1981-4. The measure of the perceived likelihood of nuclear war is calculated from surveys conducted in each country by the Gallup International Research Institutes. The magnitude of the estimated' effect Is large, suggesting that an increase of 10 percent in the fraction of the population that believes a world war is likely is associated with a decline of 4.1 percentage points in the net private saving rate, This finding is consistent with other evidence based on U.S. aggregate time series end cross-individual data suggesting that fear of nuclear war decreases savings. That proposition has profound implications for the interpretation of the performance of the post-nuclear world economy.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w2801

Published: Economic Inquiry, October 1990.

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