NOVAFRICA Student Group previews the NOVAFRICA seminar by Elena Stancanelli

How does the consumer behavior change due to terrorism?

Elena Stancanelli from the Paris School of Economics will present the paper “Household Expenditure in the Wake of Terrorism: Evidence from high frequency in-home-scanner data” co-authored with Daniel Mirza and Thierry Verdier on Wednesday, November 24th, at 02:30 pm, Lisbon time.

The research of the consumer patterns after events as terrorist attacks, which cause fear, apprehensiveness, anxiety and tension, is fundamental to fully understand the effects in the population.

This paper examines the spending habits of 15 000 French households before and after the Bataclan terrorist attack. As a result, it demonstrates the impact of terrorism on consumer behaviour, particularly on goods sensitive to hormonal and brain stress, as it is expected consumers who are indirectly exposed to the attack to experience tension and restleness, impacting at an hormonal level. Among the items examined are sugar-rich food, junk food, women’s personal hygiene products, and home maintenance products.

It was recorded an expenditure on sugary foods increased by more than 5%, which can lead to addictive behaviours and negative health consequences. However, in certain groups of the sample, junk food consumption decreased by 7 to 12 percent. It is also worth considering the stress-eating paradox (as stress can both increase or reduce food appetite). Maintenance products increased by nearly 9%, as households perceived that would allow them to regain control of their environment and, as a result of the threat, would want to spend more time at home, and less time outside. Besides that, women are also especially responsive to stress (e.g. Camacho, 2018), and the analyzed expenditure of female personal hygiene products, the data’s only female-targeted good, increased by 23,5%.

Elena Stancanelli is an applied micro-economist, whose research interests are in the field of applied household economics, specifically couples’ retirement decisions and household time allocation. Recent research has concentrated on the impact of terrorism on individual behaviour. With a PhD in economics from European University Institute in Florence, Italy, Elena Stancanelli is currently the Research Director of CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) and professor at Paris School of Economics. In the Society of the Economics of the Household (SEHO), she held the position of President-elect (2017-19) and is currently the President (2019-21).  

Written by Mariana Gomes, student of the Bachelors in Economics at Nova SBE and member of the NOVAFRICA Students Group