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Inspections To Avert Terrorism: Robustness Under Severe Uncertainty

Author

Listed:
  • L. Joe Moffitt

    () (Department of Resource Economics, University of Massachusetts Amherst)

  • John K. Stranlund

    () (Department of Resource Economics, University of Massachusetts Amherst)

  • Barry C. Field

    () (Department of Resource Economics, University of Massachusetts Amherst)

Abstract

Protecting against terrorist attacks requires making decisions in a world in which attack probabilities are largely unknown. The potential for very large losses encourages a conservative perspective, in particular toward decisions that are robust. But robustness, in the sense of assurance against extreme outcomes, ordinarily is not the only desideratum in uncertain environments. We adopt Yakov Ben-Haim’s (2001b) model of information gap decision making to investigate the problem of inspecting a number of similar targets when one of the targets may be attacked, but with unknown probability. We apply this to a problem of inspecting a sample of incoming shipping containers for a terrorist weapon. While it is always possible to lower the risk of a successful attack by inspecting more vessels, we show that robustness against the failure to guarantee a minimum level of expected utility might not be monotonic. Robustness modeling based on expected utility and incorporating inspection costs yields decision protocols that are a useful alternative to traditional risk analysis.

Suggested Citation

  • L. Joe Moffitt & John K. Stranlund & Barry C. Field, 2005. "Inspections To Avert Terrorism: Robustness Under Severe Uncertainty," Working Papers 2005-3, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Resource Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:dre:wpaper:2005-3
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    File URL: http://courses.umass.edu/resec/workingpapers/documents/resecworkingpaper2005-3.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kelsey, David, 1993. "Choice under Partial Uncertainty," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 34(2), pages 297-308, May.
    2. Hadar, Josef & Russell, William R., 1971. "Stochastic dominance and diversification," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 288-305, September.
    3. Ouchi, Fumika, 2004. "A literature review on the use of expert opinion in probabilistic risk analysis," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3201, The World Bank.
    4. Hadar, Josef & Russell, William R, 1969. "Rules for Ordering Uncertain Prospects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(1), pages 25-34, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Q. Farooq Akram & Yakov Ben-Haim & Øyvind Eitrheim, 2008. "Robust-satisficing monetary policy under parameter uncertainty," Working Paper 2007/14, Norges Bank.
    2. John K. Stranlund & Barry C. Field, 2006. "On the Production of Homeland Security Under True Uncertainty," Working Papers 2006-5, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Resource Economics.
    3. Wieck, Christine & Rudloff, Bettina, 2007. "The Bioterrorism Act of the USA and international food trade: evaluating WTO conformity and effects on bilateral imports," Journal of International Agricultural Trade and Development, Journal of International Agricultural Trade and Development, vol. 56(3).
    4. Ben-Haim, Yakov & Osteen, Craig D. & Moffitt, L. Joe, 2013. "Policy dilemma of innovation: An info-gap approach," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 130-138.
    5. John K. Stranlund & Yakov Ben-Haim, 2006. "Price-Based vs. Quantity-Based Environmental Regulation under Knightian Uncertainty: An Info-Gap Robust Satisficing Perspective," Working Papers 2006-1, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Resource Economics.
    6. Q. Farooq Akram & Yakov Ben-Haim & Øyvind Eitrheim, 2006. "Managing uncertainty through robust-satisficing monetary policy," Working Paper 2006/10, Norges Bank.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Terrorism; Robustness; Severe Uncertainty; Port Security;

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