Politics of the Low Countries

Practice

Did the COVID-19 Pandemic Reduce Attention to Environmental Issues?

A Panel Study Among Parents in Belgium, 2019-2020

Keywords issue competition, COVID-19 pandemic, panel study, environmental concern, Belgium
Authors Sari Verachtert, Dieter Stiers en Marc Hooghe
Author's information

Sari Verachtert
Sari Verachtert is a PhD student at the Centre for Political Science at the University of Leuven. Her research focuses mainly on attitudes and behaviours towards sustainable development.

Dieter Stiers
Dieter Stiers is post-doctoral researcher of FWO Vlaanderen at the Centre for Political Science Research at KU Leuven. His research focuses on elections and voting behaviour.

Marc Hooghe
Marc Hooghe is a Full Professor of Political Science at the University of Leuven. He has written mostly about political participation and political trust.
  • Abstract

      Theories on issue competition assume that there is only a limited number of issues that a person prioritises simultaneously. In this research note, we test this mechanism by using a panel study that was conducted among Belgian parents in 2019 and 2020. Between the two observations of the study, the country suffered a severe health crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We investigate whether this crisis reduced the priority of environmental issues among respondents. Our results show that there was indeed a significant decline of some indicators for environmental concern, but not for others. Furthermore, we show that a higher priority for the health-related and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic was associated with a steeper decline in environmental concern.

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