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Private investment and government protection

Author

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  • Carolyn Kousky
  • Erzo Luttmer

    ()

  • Richard Zeckhauser

Abstract

Hurricane Katrina did massive damage because New Orleans and the Gulf Coast were not appropriately protected. Wherever natural disasters threaten, the government—in its traditional role as public goods provider—must decide what level of protection to provide to an area. It does so by purchasing protective capital, such as levees for a low-lying city. (“Protection” also consists of prohibiting projects that raise risk levels, such as draining swamps.) We show that if private capital is more likely to locate in better-protected areas, as would be expected, then the marginal social value of protection will increase with the level of protection provided. That is, the benefit function is convex, contrary to the normal assumption of concavity. When the government protects and the private sector invests, there may be multiple Nash equilibria due to the ill-behaved nature of the benefit function. Policy makers must compare them, rather than merely follow local optimality conditions, to find the equilibrium offering the highest social welfare. There is usually considerable uncertainty about the amount of private investment that will accompany any level of protection, further complicating the government’s choice problem. We show that when deciding on the level of protection to provide now, the government must take account of the option value of increasing the level of protection in the future. We briefly examine but dismiss the value of rules of thumb, such as building for 1000-year floods or other rules that ignore benefits and costs. Copyright Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2006

Suggested Citation

  • Carolyn Kousky & Erzo Luttmer & Richard Zeckhauser, 2006. "Private investment and government protection," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 33(1), pages 73-100, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jrisku:v:33:y:2006:i:1:p:73-100
    DOI: 10.1007/s11166-006-0172-y
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Can Safe Public Parks Cause More Crime?
      by Matthew E. Kahn in Environmental and Urban Economics on 2011-12-29 06:42:00

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    3. Luttmer, Erzo F. P. & Zeckhauser, Richard & Kousky, Carolyn, 2006. "Permits to Elicit Information," Working Paper Series rwp06-049, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    4. Davlasheridze, Meri & Fan, Qin, 2015. "Valuing Seawall Protection in the Wake of Hurricane Disaster: Difference-in-Difference Approach," 2015 AAEA & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting, July 26-28, San Francisco, California 205349, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association;Western Agricultural Economics Association.
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    8. Meri Davlasheridze & Qin Fan, 2017. "Household Adjustments to Hurricane Katrina," The Review of Regional Studies, Southern Regional Science Association, vol. 47(1), pages 92-112, Winter.
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    10. Wang, Chunhua, 2014. "Regulating land development in a natural disaster-prone area: The roles of building codes," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 209-228.
    11. Francois Salanie & Nicolas Treich, 2009. "Option Value and Flexibility: A General Theorem with Applications," LERNA Working Papers 09.12.288, LERNA, University of Toulouse.
    12. Craig E. Landry & Paul Hindsley & Okmyung Bin & Jamie B. Kruse & John C. Whitehead & Ken Wilson, 2011. "Weathering the Storm: Measuring Household Willingness-to-Pay for Risk-Reduction in Post-Katrina New Orleans," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 991-1013, April.
    13. Daron Acemoglu & Will Rafey, 2018. "Mirage on the Horizon: Geoengineering and Carbon Taxation Without Commitment," NBER Working Papers 24411, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Raghav Gaiha1 & Kenneth Hill & Ganesh Thapa, 2012. "Have Natural Disasters Become Deadlier?," ASARC Working Papers 2012-03, The Australian National University, Australia South Asia Research Centre.
    15. Kousky, Carolyn & Cooke, Roger M., 2009. "The Unholy Trinity: Fat Tails, Tail Dependence, and Micro-Correlations," Discussion Papers dp-09-36-rev.pdf, Resources For the Future.
    16. Jacqueline Volkman-Wise, 2015. "Representativeness and managing catastrophe risk," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 51(3), pages 267-290, December.
    17. Davlasheridze, Meri & Fisher-Vanden, Karen & Klaiber, H. Allen, 2012. "The Effects of Adaptation Measures on Hurricane Induced Property Losses," 2012 Annual Meeting, August 12-14, 2012, Seattle, Washington 124565, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
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    19. Fan, Qin & Davlasheridze, Meri, 2014. "Evaluating the Effectiveness of Flood Mitigation Policies in the U.S," 2014 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2014, Minneapolis, Minnesota 169399, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    20. Carolyn Kousky, 2014. "Managing shoreline retreat: a US perspective," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 124(1), pages 9-20, May.
    21. Davlasheridze, Meri & Fisher-Vanden, Karen & Allen Klaiber, H., 2017. "The effects of adaptation measures on hurricane induced property losses: Which FEMA investments have the highest returns?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 93-114.
    22. Yanochik Mark A. & Kumazawa Risa, 2009. "Interest Rate Manipulation, Environmental Damage, and Loss Valuation," Journal of Business Valuation and Economic Loss Analysis, De Gruyter, vol. 4(2), pages 1-14, April.
    23. Kousky, Carolyn & Kunreuther, Howard C., 2009. "Improving Flood Insurance and Flood Risk Management: Insights from St. Louis, Missouri," Discussion Papers dp-09-07, Resources For the Future.
    24. Scott Farrow, 2015. "A comparison of key benefit estimation issues for natural hazards and terrorism: ex ante/ex post valuation and endogenous risk," Chapters,in: Benefit–Cost Analyses for Security Policies, chapter 6, pages 140-154 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    25. Devin Bunten & Matthew E. Kahn, 2014. "The Impact of Emerging Climate Risks on Urban Real Estate Price Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 20018, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Risk; Disaster; Floods; Infrastructure; Option value; Levees; Global warming; Multiple equilibria;

    JEL classification:

    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D92 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Intertemporal Firm Choice, Investment, Capacity, and Financing
    • H54 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Infrastructures
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • R10 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - General

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