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Rules rather than discretion: Lessons from Hurricane Katrina

  • Howard Kunreuther

    ()

  • Mark Pauly

    ()

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    This paper explores options for programs to be put in place prior to a disaster to avoid large and often poorly-managed expenditures following a catastrophe and to provide appropriate protection against the risk of those large losses which do occur. The lack of interest in insurance protection and mitigation by property owners and by public sector agencies prior to a disaster often creates major problems following a catastrophic event for victims and the government. Property owners who suffer severe damage may not have the financial resources easily at hand to rebuild their property and hence will demand relief. The government is then likely to respond with costly but poorly targeted disaster assistance. To avoid these large and often uneven ex post expenditures, we consider the option of mandatory comprehensive private disaster insurance with risk-based rates. It may be more efficient to have an ex ante public program to ensure coverage of catastrophic losses and to subsidize low income residents who cannot afford coverage rather than the current largely ex post public disaster relief program. Copyright Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2006

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s11166-006-0173-x
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    Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Risk and Uncertainty.

    Volume (Year): 33 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 1 (September)
    Pages: 101-116

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    Handle: RePEc:kap:jrisku:v:33:y:2006:i:1:p:101-116
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=100299

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    1. 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.
    2. Louis Kaplow, 1989. "Incentives and Government Relief for Risk," NBER Working Papers 3007, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-91, June.
    4. Kunreuther, Howard & Novemsky, Nathan & Kahneman, Daniel, 2001. " Making Low Probabilities Useful," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 23(2), pages 103-20, September.
    5. Hogarth, Robin M & Kunreuther, Howard, 1995. "Decision Making under Ignorance: Arguing with Yourself," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 10(1), pages 15-36, January.
    6. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
    7. Martin F. Grace & Robert W. Klein & Paul R. Kleindorfer, 2004. "Homeowners Insurance With Bundled Catastrophe Coverage," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 71(3), pages 351-379.
    8. Kunreuther, Howard & Sanderson, Warren & Vetschera, Rudolf, 1985. "A behavioral model of the adoption of protective activities," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 1-15, March.
    9. Kent Smetters, 2005. "Insuring Against Terrorism: The Policy Challenge," NBER Working Papers 11038, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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