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Disasters: Issues for State and Federal Government Finances

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  • David E. Wildasin

    ()
    (Martin School of Public Policy and Administration and Department of Economics, University of Kentucky)

Abstract

Extreme events like hurricanes, earthquakes, or terrorist attacks present major challenges for fiscal systems at all levels of government. Analysts concerned with the fiscal and financial impacts of disasters must attempt to assess the likelihood of rare events of large magnitude such as Hurricane Katrina. Extreme value theory, applied here to flood damage data for Louisiana, offers one promising methodology for this purpose. The experience of Katrina and 9/11 also show that large disasters have large intergovernmental impacts. Individual states could, in principle, engage in more extensive ex ante financial and policy preparations for disasters, including disaster avoidance, but the “revealed institutional structure” exposed by recent experience shows that the US federal system shifts much of the economic incidence of local disasters to the rest of society through intergovernmental transfers. This raises policy questions regarding the assignment of responsibility for disaster avoidance in the US federation. In particular, Federal “ownership” of the consequences of disasters may invite or necessitate new forms of Federal “control” of subnational government.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Kentucky, Institute for Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations in its series Working Papers with number 2006-07.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ifr:wpaper:2006-07

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References

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  1. Hana Polackova Brixi & Allen Schick, 2002. "Government at Risk : Contingent Liabilities and Fiscal Risk," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15233, October.
  2. Barro, Robert J., 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Scholarly Articles 3451400, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Thiess Buettner & David E. Wildasin, 2003. "The Dynamics of Municipal Fiscal Adjustment," Public Economics 0309007, EconWPA.
  4. Sonstelie, Jon C. & Portney, Paul R., 1978. "Profit maximizing communities and the theory of local public expenditure," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 263-277, April.
  5. Wallace E. Oates, 2006. "On the Theory and Practice of Fiscal Decentralization," Working Papers 2006-05, University of Kentucky, Institute for Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations.
  6. Wildasin, David E., 2004. "The Institutions of Federalism: Toward an Analytical Framework," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 57(2), pages 247-72, June.
  7. David Wildasin, 2001. "Local Public Finance in the Aftermath of September 11," Public Economics 0112005, EconWPA.
  8. Mark Skidmore & Hideki Toya, 2005. "Economic Development and the Impacts of Natural Disasters," Working Papers 05-04, UW-Whitewater, Department of Economics.
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Cited by:
  1. Hikaru Ogawa & David E. Wildasin, 2007. "Think Locally, Act Locally: Spillovers, Spillbacks, and Efficient Decentralized Policymaking," CESifo Working Paper Series 2142, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. David Wildasin, 2007. "Pre-Emption: Federal Statutory Intervention in State Taxation," Working Papers 2007-05, University of Kentucky, Institute for Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations.
  3. David Wildasin, 2007. "Disaster Policy in the US Federation: Intergovernmental Incentives and Institutional Reform," Working Papers 2007-01, University of Kentucky, Institute for Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations.
  4. Christos Kotsogiannis & Robert Schwager, 2006. "Fiscal Equalization and Yardstick Competition," CESifo Working Paper Series 1865, CESifo Group Munich.

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