As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect daily life in Indiana, a major new survey from Indiana University's Environmental Resilience Institute reveals that, as recently as December 2019, only 1 out of 5 Hoosiers anticipated being affected by a major disease outbreak this decade.
The findings are a result of the Hoosier Life Survey, part of IU's Prepared for Environmental Change Grand Challenge initiative and a comprehensive effort to gauge Hoosiers' attitudes toward the environment and extreme weather. Released today, the survey offers state-specific insights on public attitudes toward environmental change, personal values, trust in news media, and attitudes toward a variety of risks, including epidemics.
When asked how likely it was that their family would be harmed by a major disease outbreak in the next 10 years, only 18 percent of survey respondents said "likely" or "very likely." In comparison, 43 percent of respondents said it was likely their families would be impacted by extreme weather, 49 percent expected a government shutdown, and 56 percent thought an economic crisis would affect them. Notably, lower-income Hoosiers were more likely to report they would be impacted by major crises than Indiana residents with higher incomes.
"People often underestimate how vulnerable they are to future threats, whether that be the current COVID-19 disease outbreak, economic crises or the impacts of climate change," said Matt Houser, an IU sociologist and Environmental Resilience Institute research fellow who co-led the survey. "These survey results suggest that, until recently, Hoosiers were largely unconcerned about the likelihood of a pandemic.