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On the Production of Homeland Security Under True Uncertainty

Author

Listed:
  • John K. Stranlund

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

  • Barry C. Field

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

Abstract

Homeland security against possible terrorist attacks involves making decisions under true uncertainty. Not only are we ignorant of the form, place, and time of potential terrorist attacks, we are also largely ignorant of the likelihood of these attacks. In this paper, we conceptualize homeland security under true uncertainty as society’s immunity to unacceptable losses. We illustrate and analyze the consequences of this notion of security with a simple model of allocating a fixed budget for homeland security to defending the pathways through which a terrorist may launch an attack and to mitigating the damage from an attack that evades this defense. In this problem, immunity is the range of uncertainty about the likelihood of an attack within which the actual expected loss will not exceed some critical value. We analyze the allocation of a fixed homeland security budget to defensive and mitigative efforts to maximize immunity to alternative levels of expected loss. We show that the production of homeland security involves a fundamental trade-off between immunity and acceptable loss; that is, for fixed resources that are optimally allocated to defense and mitigation, increasing immunity requires accepting higher expected losses, and reducing acceptable expected losses requires lower immunity. Greater investments in homeland security allow society to increase its immunity to a particular expected loss, reduce the expected losses to which we are immune while holding the degree of immunity constant, or some combination of increased immunity to a lower critical expected loss.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:dre:wpaper:2006-5
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    File URL: http://courses.umass.edu/resec/workingpapers/documents/resecworkingpaper2006-5.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    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. Geoffrey Heal & Howard Kunreuther, 2005. "IDS Models of Airline Security," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 49(2), pages 201-217, April.
    3. Keohane, Nathaniel O & Zeckhauser, Richard J, 2003. "The Ecology of Terror Defense," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 26(2-3), pages 201-229, March-May.
    4. Kunreuther, Howard & Heal, Geoffrey, 2003. "Interdependent Security," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 26(2-3), pages 231-249, March-May.
    5. Richard D. Horan & Charles Perrings & Frank Lupi & Erwin H. Bulte, 2002. "Biological Pollution Prevention Strategies under Ignorance:The Case of Invasive Species," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1303-1310.
    6. Ethan Bueno de Mesquita, 2005. "The Terrorist Endgame," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 49(2), pages 237-258, April.
    7. 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.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Homeland Security; Terrorism; True Uncertainty;

    JEL classification:

    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • H56 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - National Security and War

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