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Research Note

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

A Panel Study Among Parents in Belgium, 2019-2020

Tijdschrift Politics of the Low Countries, Aflevering 1 2022
Trefwoorden issue competition, COVID-19 pandemic, panel study, environmental concern, Belgium
Auteurs Sari Verachtert, Dieter Stiers en Marc Hooghe
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    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.


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.
Research Note

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

A Panel Study Among Parents in Belgium, 2019-2020

Tijdschrift Politics of the Low Countries, Aflevering 1 2022
Trefwoorden issue competition, COVID-19 pandemic, panel study, environmental concern, Belgium
Auteurs Sari Verachtert, Dieter Stiers en Marc Hooghe
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    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.


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.
Article

De invloed van verkiezingen op politiek vertrouwen

Een analyse van een verkiezingspanel in België, 2009-2014

Tijdschrift Res Publica, Aflevering 3 2016
Trefwoorden procedural fairness theory, political trust, internal political efficacy, elections, Belgium
Auteurs Dieter Stiers en Marc Hooghe
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    Elections are routinely investigated with a focus on the way in which winners or losers of the elections are different in their attitudes towards the political system. There is no previous research on the general impact of participation in the electoral process on support for the political system. In this study, we hypothesize – based on the procedural fairness theory – that participating in elections raises the voter’s political trust, irrespective of the result of the party s/he voted for. Furthermore, we expect this impact to be largest for voters with the lowest level of internal political efficacy. These expectations are investigated using the Belgian election panel (2009-2014) study, observing political trust before and after the elections in two consecutive electoral cycles. The results provide support for all proposed hypotheses, highlighting the importance of general participation in elections for democratic legitimacy.


Dieter Stiers
Dieter Stiers is FWO-aspirant verbonden aan het Centre for Citizenship and Democracy van de KU Leuven. Zijn onderzoek richt zich op verkiezingsgedrag en in het bijzonder op de oorzaken en gevolgen van electorale volatiliteit.

Marc Hooghe
Marc Hooghe is gewoon hoogleraar politieke wetenschappen aan het Centrum voor Politicologisch Onderzoek van de KU Leuven. Hij is houder van een ERC Advanced Grant.
Article

Het effect van politieke sofisticatie op de (intentie tot) opkomst bij eerste- en tweederangsverkiezingen in België en Nederland

Tijdschrift Res Publica, Aflevering 1 2016
Trefwoorden political sophistication, first- and second-order elections, turnout
Auteurs Dieter Stiers
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    In this paper we investigate the effect of political sophistication on turnout and whether this effect differs in second-order national elections. Political sophistication is thought to influence turnout because the more sophisticated voters have access to more information about the electoral and the party system. In this paper, we start from the expectation that these effects should be even stronger in the context of secondorder national elections, where information about the stakes of the election is not readily available. We analyse citizens’ willingness to turn out to vote at different levels of government in Belgium and the Netherlands. The results show that a higher degree of political sophistication increases the probability to turn out at the national as well as the European level. Our expectation that this effect would be larger at the European level, however, is not supported by these results.


Dieter Stiers
Dieter Stiers werkt als doctoraatsstudent aan het Centre for Citizenship and Democracy van de KU Leuven. Zijn onderzoek richt zich op verkiezingsgedrag en in het bijzonder op de oorzaken en gevolgen van electorale volatiliteit.
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