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Why Do People Die In Earthquakes? The Costs, Benefits And Institutions Of Disaster Risk Reduction In Developing Countries

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  • KENNY, CHARLES

    ()
    (The World Bank)

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    Abstract

    Every year, around 60,000 people die worldwide in natural disasters. The majority of the deaths are caused by building collapse in earthquakes, and the great majority occurs in the developing world. This is despite the fact that engineering solutions exist that can almost completely eliminate the risk of such deaths. Why is this? The engineering solutions are both expensive and technically demanding, so that the benefit-cost ratio of such solutions is often unfavorable compared with other interventions designed to save lives in developing countries. Nonetheless, a range of public disaster risk-reduction interventions (including construction activities) are highly cost effective. The fact that such interventions often remain unimplemented or ineffectively executed points to a role for issues of political economy. Building regulations in developing countries appear to have limited impact in many cases, perhaps because of limited capacity and the impact of corruption. Public construction is often of low quality--perhaps for similar reasons. This suggests approaches that emphasize simple and limited disaster risk regulation covering only the most at-risk structures and that (preferably) can be monitored by non-experts. It also suggests a range of transparency and oversight mechanisms for public construction projects.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 4823.

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    Length: 42 pages
    Date of creation: 01 Jan 2009
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4823

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    Related research

    Keywords: access to information; accidents; aged; AIDS epidemic; Building Code; building codes; catastrophic events; causes of death; child health; child mortality; child mortality rate; child mortality rates;

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    References

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    1. Benjamin A. Olken, 2005. "Monitoring Corruption: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Indonesia," NBER Working Papers 11753, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Liu, Jin-Tan & Hammitt, James K. & Liu, Jin-Long, 1997. "Estimated hedonic wage function and value of life in a developing country," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 57(3), pages 353-358, December.
    3. Djankov, Simeon & La Porta, Rafael & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei, 2001. "The Regulation of Entry," Working Paper Series rwp01-015, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    4. Aldy, Joseph E. & Viscusi, W. Kip, 2003. "The Value of Statistical Life: A Critical Review of Market Estimates throughout the World," Working paper 282, Regulation2point0.
    5. Anbarci, Nejat & Escaleras, Monica & Register, Charles A., 2005. "Earthquake fatalities: the interaction of nature and political economy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(9-10), pages 1907-1933, September.
    6. Kenny, Charles, 2007. "A Note on the Ethical Implications of the Stern Review," MPRA Paper 2281, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Sonalde Desai & Soumya Alva, 1998. "Maternal education and child health: Is there a strong causal relationship?," Demography, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 71-81, February.
    8. Oster, Emily, 2012. "HIV and sexual behavior change: Why not Africa?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 35-49.
    9. repec:reg:rpubli:282 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:
    1. Keefer, Philip & Neumayer, Eric & Plumper, Thomas, 2010. "Earthquake propensity and the politics of mortality prevention," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5182, The World Bank.

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