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You Only Die Once: Managing Discrete Interdependent Risks

  • Geoffrey Heal
  • Howard Kunreuther

This paper extends our earlier analysis of interdependent security issues to a general class of problems involving discrete interdependent risks with heterogeneous agents. There is a threat of an event that can only happen once, and the risk depends on actions taken by others. Any agent's incentive to invest in managing the risk depends on the actions of others. Security problems at airlines and in computer networks come into this category, as do problems of risk management in organizations facing the possibility of bankruptcy, and individuals' choices about whether to be vaccinated against an infectious disease. Surprisingly the framework also covers certain aspects of investment in R&D. Here we characterize Nash equilibria with heterogeneous agents and give conditions for tipping and cascading of equilibria.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9885.

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Date of creation: Aug 2003
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Richardson, H.W., P. Gordon and J.E. Moore II (eds.) The Economic Impacts of Terrorist Attacks. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2005.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9885
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  1. Joseph Farrell & Garth Saloner, 1985. "Standardization, Compatibility, and Innovation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 16(1), pages 70-83, Spring.
  2. Keohane, Nathaniel O & Zeckhauser, Richard J, 2003. " The Ecology of Terror Defense," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 26(2-3), pages 201-29, March-May.
  3. Lakdawalla, Darius & Zanjani, George, 2005. "Insurance, self-protection, and the economics of terrorism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(9-10), pages 1891-1905, September.
  4. Sushil Bikhchandani & David Hirshleifer & Ivo Welch, 1998. "Learning from the Behavior of Others: Conformity, Fads, and Informational Cascades," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 151-170, Summer.
  5. Howard Kunreuther & Geoffrey Heal, 2002. "Interdependent Security: The Case of Identical Agents," NBER Working Papers 8871, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Michael L. Katz & Carl Shapiro, 1994. "Systems Competition and Network Effects," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(2), pages 93-115, Spring.
  7. Crawford, Vincent P & Haller, Hans, 1990. "Learning How to Cooperate: Optimal Play in Repeated Coordination Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(3), pages 571-95, May.
  8. V.V. Chari & Ravi Jagannathan, 1984. "Banking Panics," Discussion Papers 618, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  9. Partha Dasgupta & Joseph Stiglitz, 1980. "Uncertainty, Industrial Structure, and the Speed of R&D," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 11(1), pages 1-28, Spring.
  10. Todd Sandler, 2003. "Collective Action and Transnational Terrorism," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(6), pages 779-802, 06.
  11. Dasgupta, Partha & Stiglitz, Joseph, 1981. "Resource Depletion under Technological Uncertainty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(1), pages 85-104, January.
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