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National Survey Evidence on Disasters and Relief: Risk Beliefs, Self-Interest, and Compassion

Author

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  • W. Kip Viscusi
  • Richard J. Zeckhauser

Abstract

A nationally representative sample of respondents estimated their fatality risks from four types of natural disasters, and indicated whether they favored governmental disaster relief. For all hazards, including auto accident risks, most respondents assessed their risks as being below average, with one-third assessing them as average. Individuals from high-risk states, or with experience with disasters, estimate risks higher, though by less than reasonable calculations require. Four-fifths of our respondents favor government relief for disaster victims, but only one-third do for victims in high-risk areas. Individuals who perceive themselves at higher risk are more supportive of government assistance.

Suggested Citation

  • W. Kip Viscusi & Richard J. Zeckhauser, 2006. "National Survey Evidence on Disasters and Relief: Risk Beliefs, Self-Interest, and Compassion," NBER Working Papers 12582, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12582 Note: LE EEE
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Zeckhauser, Richard J, 1996. "The Economics of Catastrophes," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 12(2-3), pages 113-140, May.
    2. Patricia Born & W. Viscusi, 2006. "The catastrophic effects of natural disasters on insurance markets," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 33(1), pages 55-72, September.
    3. Fischhoff, Baruch & Gonzalez, Roxana M. & Small, Deborah A. & Lerner, Jennifer S., 2003. "Judged Terror Risk and Proximity to the World Trade Center," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 26(2-3), pages 137-151, March-May.
    4. Colin F. Camerer & Howard Kunreuther, 1989. "Decision processes for low probability events: Policy implications," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(4), pages 565-592.
    5. Viscusi, W Kip & Zeckhauser, Richard J, 2003. "Sacrificing Civil Liberties to Reduce Terrorism Risks," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 26(2-3), pages 99-120, March-May.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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