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Private Investment and Government Protection

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  • Carolyn Kousky
  • Erzo F.P. Luttmer
  • Richard J. Zeckhauser

Abstract

Hurricane Katrina did massive damage because New Orleans and the Gulf Coast were not appropriately protected. Wherever natural disasters threaten, the government -- in its traditional role as public goods provider -- must decide what level of protection to provide to an area. It does so by purchasing protective capital, such as levees for a low-lying city. We show that if private capital is more likely to locate in better-protected areas, then the marginal social value of protection will increase with the level of protection provided. That is, the benefit function is convex, contrary to the normal assumption of concavity. When the government protects and the private sector invests, due to the ill-behaved nature of the benefit function, there may be multiple Nash equilibria. Policy makers must compare them, rather than merely follow local optimality conditions, to find the equilibrium offering the highest social welfare. There is usually considerable uncertainty about the amount of investment that will accompany any level of protection, further complicating the government%u2019s choice problem. We show that when deciding on the current level of protection, the government must take account of the option value of increasing the level of protection in the future.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12255.

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Date of creation: May 2006
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Publication status: published as Carolyn Kousky & Erzo Luttmer & Richard Zeckhauser, 2006. "Private investment and government protection," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 33(1), pages 73-100, September.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12255

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  1. Can Safe Public Parks Cause More Crime?
    by Matthew E. Kahn in Environmental and Urban Economics on 2011-12-29 00:42:00
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Cited by:
  1. Davlasheridze, Meri & Fisher-Vanden, Karen & Klaiber, H. Allen, 2012. "The Effects of Adaptation Measures on Hurricane Induced Property Losses," 2012 Annual Meeting, August 12-14, 2012, Seattle, Washington 124565, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  2. Luttmer, Erzo F. P. & Zeckhauser, Richard & Kousky, Carolyn, 2006. "Permits to Elicit Information," Working Paper Series rwp06-049, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  3. Wang, Chunhua, 2014. "Regulating land development in a natural disaster-prone area: The roles of building codes," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 209-228.
  4. Devin Bunten & Matthew E. Kahn, 2014. "The Impact of Emerging Climate Risks on Urban Real Estate Price Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 20018, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Salanié, François & Treich, Nicolas, 2009. "Option Value and Flexibility: A General Theorem with Applications," TSE Working Papers 09-002, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
  6. Kousky, Carolyn & Cooke, Roger M., 2009. "The Unholy Trinity: Fat Tails, Tail Dependence, and Micro-Correlations," Discussion Papers dp-09-36-rev.pdf, Resources For the Future.
  7. Kousky, Carolyn & Kunreuther, Howard C., 2009. "Improving Flood Insurance and Flood Risk Management: Insights from St. Louis, Missouri," Discussion Papers dp-09-07, Resources For the Future.
  8. Craig E. Landry & Paul Hindsley & Okmyung Bin & Jamie B. Kruse & John C. Whitehead & Ken Wilson, 2011. "Weathering the Storm: Measuring Household Willingness-to-Pay for Risk-Reduction in Post-Katrina New Orleans," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 991-1013, April.
  9. Céline Grislain-Letrémy & Sabine Lemoyne de Forges, 2011. "Coordinating Flood Insurance and Collective Prevention Policies: A Fiscal Federalism Perspective," Working Papers 2011-07, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
  10. Raghav Gaiha1 & Kenneth Hill & Ganesh Thapa, 2012. "Have Natural Disasters Become Deadlier?," ASARC Working Papers 2012-03, The Australian National University, Australia South Asia Research Centre.

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