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Surviving the Titanic Disaster: Economic, Natural and Social Determinants


  • Bruno S. Frey


  • David A. Savage

    () (School of Economics and Finance, Queensland University of Technology)

  • Benno Torgler

    () (School of Economics and Finance, Queensland University of Technology)


The sinking of the Titanic in April 1912 took the lives of 68 percent of the people aboard. Who survived? It was women and children who had a higher probability of being saved, not men. Likewise, people traveling in first class had a better chance of survival than those in second and third class. British passengers were more likely to perish than members of other nations. This extreme event represents a rare case of a well-documented life and death situation where social norms were enforced. This paper shows that economic analysis can account for human behavior in such situations.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruno S. Frey & David A. Savage & Benno Torgler, 2009. "Surviving the Titanic Disaster: Economic, Natural and Social Determinants," School of Economics and Finance Discussion Papers and Working Papers Series 245, School of Economics and Finance, Queensland University of Technology.
  • Handle: RePEc:qut:dpaper:245

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Elizabeth Frankenberg & Thomas Gillespie & Samuel Preston & Bondan Sikoki & Duncan Thomas, 2011. "Mortality, The Family and The Indian Ocean Tsunami," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(554), pages 162-182, August.
    2. Steven N. Durlauf & Yannis M. Ioannides, 2010. "Social Interactions," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 451-478, September.
    3. Konrad, Kai A. & Kovenock, Dan, 2012. "The lifeboat problem," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 552-559.
    4. Yamamura, Eiji, 2011. "Effect of free media on views regarding the safety of nuclear energy after the 2011 disasters in Japan: evidence using cross-country data," MPRA Paper 32011, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    Decision under Pressure; Tragic Events and Disasters; Survival; Quasi-Natural Experiment; Altruism;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty

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