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The Government, the Market, and the Problem of Catastrophic Loss

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  • Priest, George L

Abstract

This article addresses the comparative advantage of the government to the private property/casualty insurance industry for the provision of insurance coverage for catastrophic losses. That the government can play an important role as an insurer of societal losses has been a central public policy principle since at least the New Deal. In addition, our government typically automatically provides forms of specific relief following unusually severe or unexpected disasters, which itself can be viewed as a form of ex post insurance. This article argues that for systemic reasons, the government is much less effective than the private property/casualty market in providing coverage of losses generally, but especially of losses in contexts of catastrophes. Copyright 1996 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

Suggested Citation

  • Priest, George L, 1996. "The Government, the Market, and the Problem of Catastrophic Loss," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 12(2-3), pages 219-237, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jrisku:v:12:y:1996:i:2-3:p:219-37
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Charles T. Clotfelter & Philip J. Cook, 1991. "The "Gambler's Fallacy" in Lottery Play," NBER Working Papers 3769, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. 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.
    3. Kunreuther, Howard, 1996. "Mitigating Disaster Losses through Insurance," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 12(2-3), pages 171-187, May.
    4. Camerer, Colin & Kunreuther, Howard, 1993. "Making Decisions about Liability and Insurance: Editors' Comments," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 7(1), pages 5-15, August.
    5. Cameron, Trudy Ann, 1988. "A new paradigm for valuing non-market goods using referendum data: Maximum likelihood estimation by censored logistic regression," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 15(3), pages 355-379, September.
    6. Viscusi, W Kip, 1990. "Do Smokers Underestimate Risks?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1253-1269, December.
    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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Merrifield, John, 2002. "A general equilibrium analysis of the insurance bonding approach to pollution threats," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 103-115, January.
    2. Aglaia Petseti & Milton Nektarios, 2012. "Proposal for a National Earthquake Insurance Programme for Greece," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan;The Geneva Association, vol. 37(2), pages 377-400, April.
    3. Steven Shavell, 2014. "A general rationale for a governmental role in the relief of large risks," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 49(3), pages 213-234, December.
    4. Arnold N. Scott, 2000. "The Role of Government in Responding to Natural Catastrophes," Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines, De Gruyter, vol. 10(4), pages 1-24, December.
    5. Nathalie De Marcelis-Warin & Erwann Michel-Kerjan, 2003. "Catastrophe risk sharing and public-private partnerships : From natural disasters to terrorism," Working Papers hal-00242981, HAL.
    6. Dobes Leo & Jotzo Frank & Stern David I., 2014. "The Economics of Global Climate Change: A Historical Literature Review," Review of Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 65(3), pages 281-320, December.
    7. Botzen, W.J.W. & Aerts, J.C.J.H. & van den Bergh, J.C.J.M., 2009. "Willingness of homeowners to mitigate climate risk through insurance," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(8-9), pages 2265-2277, June.
    8. Barnett, Barry J. & Barrett, Christopher B. & Skees, Jerry R., 2008. "Poverty Traps and Index-Based Risk Transfer Products," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(10), pages 1766-1785, October.
    9. Arnold N. Scott, 2000. "The Role Of Government In Responding To Natural Catastrophes," Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines, De Gruyter, vol. 10(4), pages 1-22, December.
    10. Michel-Kerjan Erwann & de Marcellis-Warin Nathalie, 2006. "Public-Private Programs for Covering Extreme Events: The Impact of Information Distribution on Risk-Sharing," Asia-Pacific Journal of Risk and Insurance, De Gruyter, vol. 1(2), pages 1-30, February.
    11. Steven Shavell, 2014. "A General Rationale for a Governmental Role in the Relief of Large Risks," NBER Working Papers 20192, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Skees, Jerry R., 2000. "A role for capital markets in natural disasters: a piece of the food security puzzle," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 365-378, June.
    13. Paul Raschky & Hannelore Weck-Hannemann, 2007. "Charity hazard - A real hazard to natural disaster insurance," Working Papers 2007-04, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.
    14. Woodard, Joshua, 2016. "Estimation of Insurance Deductible Demand under Endogenous Premium Rates," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, 2016, Boston, Massachusetts 236151, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    15. Verspecht, Ann & Van Huylenbroeck, Guido & Buysse, Jeroen, 2014. "Extreme weather events in Belgium: calamity fund and on-farm strategies hand in hand?," 2014 International Congress, August 26-29, 2014, Ljubljana, Slovenia 183050, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    16. Holthausen, Niels, 2006. "Ökonomische Bedeutung und Management von Naturrisiken im Wald: Theoretische Grundlagen und empirische Analysen nach dem Sturm Lothar (1999) in der Schweiz," Schriftenreihe Forstökonomie und Forstplanung, University of Freiburg, Chair of Forestry Economics and Planning, volume 26, number 26.
    17. Anonymous & Roe, Terry L., 1999. "Policy Reform, Market Stability, And Food Security; Proceedings Of A Conference Of The International Agricultural Trade Research Consortium," Policy Reform, Market Stability, and Food Security Conference, June 26-27, 1998, Alexandria Virginia 14538, International Agricultural Trade Research Consortium.
    18. Mahul, Olivier & Gurenko, Eugene, 2006. "The macro financing of natural hazards in developing countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4075, The World Bank.

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