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Disaster Policy in the US Federation: Intergovernmental Incentives and Institutional Reform


  • David Wildasin

    () (Martin School of Public Policy and Administration and Department of Economics, University of Kentucky)


The devastation resulting from the hurricanes of 2005 could largely have been avoided at modest cost, evidence of a policy failure that may stem from misaligned incentives among levels of government. In particular, Federal government provision of ex post disaster relief means that subnational governments are not rewarded for costly but socially efficient policies that limit disaster losses. A system of Federally-mandated, state-funded disaster reserves would strengthen subnational government incentives to implement more disaster-averse policies. Illustrative calculations show that the costs of such reserves would vary widely by state but would not impose undue burdens on state fiscal systems.

Suggested Citation

  • David Wildasin, 2007. "Disaster Policy in the US Federation: Intergovernmental Incentives and Institutional Reform," Working Papers 2007-01, University of Kentucky, Institute for Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations.
  • Handle: RePEc:ifr:wpaper:2007-01

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David E. Wildasin, 2006. "Disasters: Issues for State and Federal Government Finances," Working Papers 2006-07, University of Kentucky, Institute for Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations.
    2. Wildasin, David E., 1997. "Externalities and bailouts : hard and soft budget constraints in intergovernmental fiscal relations," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1843, The World Bank.
    3. Caplan, Arthur J. & Cornes, Richard C. & Silva, Emilson C. D., 2000. "Pure public goods and income redistribution in a federation with decentralized leadership and imperfect labor mobility," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 265-284, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Wildasin, David E., 2007. "Pre–Emption: Federal Statutory Intervention in State Taxation," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 60(3), pages 649-662, September.
    2. Eliza Lis & Christiane Nickel, 2010. "The impact of extreme weather events on budget balances," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 17(4), pages 378-399, August.
    3. Hikaru Ogawa & David E. Wildasin, 2009. "Think Locally, Act Locally: Spillovers, Spillbacks, and Efficient Decentralized Policymaking," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1206-1217, September.
    4. Timothy Goodspeed & Andrew Haughwout, 2012. "On the optimal design of disaster insurance in a federation," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 1-27, March.
    5. Lis, Eliza & Nickel, Christiane, 2009. "The impact of extreme weather events on budget balances and implications for fiscal policy," Working Paper Series 1055, European Central Bank.

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