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The political economy of FEMA disaster payments

Author

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  • Thomas A. Garrett
  • Russell S. Sobel

Abstract

We find that presidential and congressional influences affect the rate of disaster declaration and the allocation of FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) disaster expenditures across states. States politically important to the president have a higher rate of disaster declaration by the president, and disaster expenditures are higher in states having congressional representation on FEMA oversight committees. Election year impacts are also found. Our models predict that nearly half of all disaster relief is motivated politically rather than by need. The findings reject a purely altruistic model of FEMA assistance and question the relative effectiveness of government versus private disaster relief.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas A. Garrett & Russell S. Sobel, 2002. "The political economy of FEMA disaster payments," Working Papers 2002-012, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2002-012
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Marilyn Young & Michael Reksulak & William F. Shughart, 2001. "The Political Economy of the IRS," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(2), pages 201-220, July.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Disaster relief;

    JEL classification:

    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • H5 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies

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