Last night in my graduate Public Choice class, Peter Twieg suggested that people have a fixed mental budget of fear to allocate.  An implication, I suggested, is that non-terrorist fears would decline right after 9/11. 

Today I checked.  At least for crime, the “fear budget” hypothesis checks out.  From a long-running Gallup survey:


Notice: Fear of crime fell a month after 9/11, and reached a twenty-year minimum in October, 2002.  The evidence is hardly iron-clad – fear was on a downward trend for years before – but it’s still pretty striking.

Anyone got any other evidence for or against the fear budget hypothesis?