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The Use of Knowledge in Natural Disaster Relief Management

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Author Info

  • Russell S. Sobel

    (Department of Economics, West Virginia University)

  • Peter T. Leeson

    (Mercatus Center, George Mason University)

Abstract

To successfully coordinate natural disaster relief, society must solve Hayek’s “knowledge, problem” at three critical information nodes: (1) identification of disaster; (2) determination of what relief is needed and who needs which relief resources; and (3) evaluation of on-going relief efforts. This paper investigates the comparative ability of government and the private sector to do this. We find that government is inherently incapable of generating the information needed to solve the knowledge problem at any of these nodes. In contrast, the private sector is capable of solving the knowledge problem at each information node. The results of our analysis suggest that disaster relief reforms which leave government as the primary manager of natural disasters are bound to fail. Correcting government’s information failure in the context of disaster relief requires eliminating its root cause: government itself.

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File URL: http://www.be.wvu.edu/phd_economics/pdf/06-09.pdf
File Function: First version, 2006
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, West Virginia University in its series Working Papers with number 06-09 Classification-.

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Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wvu:wpaper:06-09

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  1. Russell Sobel & Peter Leeson, 2006. "Government's response to Hurricane Katrina: A public choice analysis," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 127(1), pages 55-73, April.
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Cited by:
  1. Emily Chamlee-Wright & Virgil Storr, 2011. "Social capital, lobbying and community-based interest groups," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 149(1), pages 167-185, October.
  2. Monica Escaleras & Charles Register, 2012. "Fiscal decentralization and natural hazard risks," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 151(1), pages 165-183, April.

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