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Earthquake propensity and the politics of mortality prevention

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  • Keefer, Philip
  • Neumayer, Eric
  • Plumper, Thomas

Abstract

Governments can significantly reduce earthquake mortality by implementing and enforcing quake-proof construction regulation. The authors examine why many governments do not. Contrary to intuition, controlling for the strength and location of actual earthquakes, mortality is lower in countries with higher earthquake propensity, where the payoffs to mortality prevention are higher. Importantly, however, the government response to earthquake propensity depends on country income and the political incentives of governments to provide public goods to citizens. The opportunity costs of earthquake mortality prevention are higher in poorer countries; rich countries invest more in mortality prevention than poor countries in response to a higher earthquake propensity. Similarly, governments that have fewer incentives to provide public goods, such as younger democracies, autocracies with less institutionalized ruling parties and countries with corrupt regimes, respond less to an elevated quake propensity. They therefore have higher mortality at any level of quake propensity compared to older democracies, autocracies with highly institutionalized parties and non-corrupt regimes, respectively. The authors find robust evidence for these predictions in our analysis of earthquake mortality over the period 1960 to 2005.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 5182.

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Date of creation: 01 Jan 2010
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5182

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Keywords: Population Policies; Natural Disasters; Hazard Risk Management; Labor Policies; Disaster Management;

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References

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  1. Matthew E. Kahn, 2005. "The Death Toll from Natural Disasters: The Role of Income, Geography, and Institutions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 271-284, May.
  2. Razvan Vlaicu, 2008. "Democracy, Credibility, and Clientelism," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(2), pages 371-406, October.
  3. Philip Keefer, 2005. "Democracy, Public Expenditures, and the Poor: Understanding Political Incentives for Providing Public Services," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 20(1), pages 1-27.
  4. J. Scott Long & Jeremy Freese, 2006. "Regression Models for Categorical Dependent Variables using Stata, 2nd Edition," Stata Press books, StataCorp LP, edition 2, number long2, March.
  5. Nejat Anbarci & Monica Escaleras & Charles A. Register, 2004. "Earthquake fatalities: the interaction of nature and political economy," Working Papers 0415, Florida International University, Department of Economics.
  6. Beck, T.H.L. & Clarke, G. & Groff, A. & Keefer , P. & Walsh, P., 2001. "New tools in comparative political economy: The database of political institutions," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-3125517, Tilburg University.
  7. Colin F. Camerer & Howard Kunreuther, 1989. "Decision processes for low probability events: Policy implications," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(4), pages 565-592.
  8. Plümper, Thomas & Neumayer, Eric, 2009. "Famine Mortality, Rational Political Inactivity, and International Food Aid," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 50-61, January.
  9. McClelland, Gary H & Schulze, William D & Coursey, Don L, 1993. " Insurance for Low-Probability Hazards: A Bimodal Response to Unlikely Events," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 7(1), pages 95-116, August.
  10. Kenny, Charles, 2009. "Why do people die in earthquakes ? the costs, benefits and institutions of disaster risk reduction in developing countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4823, The World Bank.
  11. Monica Escaleras & Nejat Anbarci & Charles Register, 2007. "Public sector corruption and major earthquakes: A potentially deadly interaction," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 132(1), pages 209-230, July.
  12. Plumper, Thomas & Martin, Christian W, 2003. " Democracy, Government Spending, and Economic Growth: A Political-Economic Explanation of the Barro-Effect," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 117(1-2), pages 27-50, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Ferreira, Susana & Hamilton, Kirk & Vincent, Jeffrey R., 2011. "Nature, socioeconomics and adaptation to natural disasters: new evidence from floods," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5725, The World Bank.
  2. Yamamura, Eiji, 2013. "Impact of natural disaster on public sector corruption," MPRA Paper 49760, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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