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The Problem of Prevention

  • Benoit, Jean-Pierre
  • Dubra, Juan

Many disasters are foreshadowed by insufficient preventative care. In this paper, we argue that there is a true problem of prevention, in that insufficient care is often the result of rational calculations on the part of agents. We identify three factors that lead to dubious efforts in care. First, when objective risks of a disaster are poorly understood, positive experiences may lead to an underestimation of these risks and a corresponding underinvestment in prevention. Second, redundancies designed for safety may lead agents to take substandard care. Finally, elected officials have an incentive to underinvest in prevention for some disasters, especially those that are relatively unlikely.

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File URL: http://econ.as.nyu.edu/docs/IO/9185/RR06-01.pdf
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Paper provided by C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University in its series Working Papers with number 06-01.

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Length: 22 pages
Date of creation: 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cvs:starer:06-01
Contact details of provider: Postal: C.V. Starr Center, Department of Economics, New York University, 19 W. 4th Street, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10012
Phone: (212) 998-8936
Fax: (212) 995-3932
Web page: http://econ.as.nyu.edu/object/econ.cvstarr.html
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Order Information: Postal: C.V. Starr Center, Department of Economics, New York University, 19 W. 4th Street, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10012
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  1. Andreas Diekmann, 1985. "Volunteer's Dilemma," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 29(4), pages 605-610, December.
  2. Dasgupta, Amil & Prat, Andrea, 2005. "Asset Price Dynamics When Traders Care About Reputation," CEPR Discussion Papers 5372, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  6. Holmstrom, Bengt, 1999. "Managerial Incentive Problems: A Dynamic Perspective," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(1), pages 169-82, January.
  7. Mathias Dewatripont & Ian Jewitt & Jean Tirole, 1999. "The economics of career concerns: part 1 :comparing information structures," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/9617, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  8. Michael Rothschild, 1974. "Searching for the Lowest Price When the Distribution of Prices Is Unknown: A Summary," NBER Chapters, in: Annals of Economic and Social Measurement, Volume 3, number 1, pages 293-294 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Scharfstein, David. & Stein, Jeremy C., 1988. "Herd behavior and investment," Working papers WP 2062-88., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  10. Glenn MacDonald & Leslie M. Marx, 2001. "Adverse Specialization," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(4), pages 864-899, August.
  11. Gaube, Thomas, 2001. "Group size and free riding when private and public goods are gross substitutes," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 127-132, January.
  12. Dubra, J., 1999. "Overconfidence in Search," Working Papers 99-10, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  13. Juan Dubra, 2004. "Optimism and Overconfidence in Search," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 7(1), pages 198-218, January.
  14. Cornes, Richard, 1993. "Dyke Maintenance and Other Stories: Some Neglected Types of Public Goods," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(1), pages 259-71, February.
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