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Comparing socialization, cultural and individual level effects on attitudes towards nuclear energy – A multilevel analysis of 27 European countries

Sebastian Jäckle, Rafael Bauschke

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Despite visible cross-country variation in survey data on attitudes towards nuclear power in Europe, studies of nuclear risk perception have predominantly related peoples’ attitudes to individual level factors. To account for the variance at the country-level, multilevel regression analysis, allowing for the integration of both individual and aggregate level factors, is proposed as a more fitting tool. Our model analyzes data from a 2008 Eurobarometer Special Issue on attitudes to nuclear energy. Apart from sociodemographic factors, geographic distance to the nearest nuclear power plant, knowledge concerning nuclear issues, trust in official sources as well as self-placement on a political scale show influences on attitudes towards nuclear energy at the individual level. At a country level, dependence on foreign energy sources and the electricity price do not prove significant, while socio-cultural factors, political socialization through Green parties and a familiarity effect are particularly important. The results suggest that the integration of aggregate level factors may help to develop a more complete understanding of public perceptions and of the effects of culture and socialization on attitudes.

Keywords: Nuclear energy – socialization – multi-level-analysis – Europe – risk perceptions