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Why Do People Die In Earthquakes? The Costs, Benefits And Institutions Of Disaster Risk Reduction In Developing Countries

  • KENNY, CHARLES

    ()

    (The World Bank)

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    Every year, around 60,000 people die worldwide in natural disasters. The majority of the deaths are caused by building collapse in earthquakes, and the great majority occurs in the developing world. This is despite the fact that engineering solutions exist that can almost completely eliminate the risk of such deaths. Why is this? The engineering solutions are both expensive and technically demanding, so that the benefit-cost ratio of such solutions is often unfavorable compared with other interventions designed to save lives in developing countries. Nonetheless, a range of public disaster risk-reduction interventions (including construction activities) are highly cost effective. The fact that such interventions often remain unimplemented or ineffectively executed points to a role for issues of political economy. Building regulations in developing countries appear to have limited impact in many cases, perhaps because of limited capacity and the impact of corruption. Public construction is often of low quality--perhaps for similar reasons. This suggests approaches that emphasize simple and limited disaster risk regulation covering only the most at-risk structures and that (preferably) can be monitored by non-experts. It also suggests a range of transparency and oversight mechanisms for public construction projects.

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    File URL: http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2009/01/27/000158349_20090127151439/Rendered/PDF/WPS4823.pdf
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    Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 4823.

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    Length: 42 pages
    Date of creation: 01 Jan 2009
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4823
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    1. Kenny, Charles, 2007. "A Note on the Ethical Implications of the Stern Review," MPRA Paper 2281, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Simeon Djankov & Rafael La Porta & Florencio LopezdeSilanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2000. "The Regulation of Entry," NBER Working Papers 7892, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Benjamin Olken, 2005. "Monitoring corruption: Evidence from a field experiment in indonesia," Natural Field Experiments 00317, The Field Experiments Website.
    4. Anbarci, Nejat & Escaleras, Monica & Register, Charles A., 2005. "Earthquake fatalities: the interaction of nature and political economy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(9-10), pages 1907-1933, September.
    5. Emily Oster, 2007. "HIV and Sexual Behavior Change: Why Not Africa?," NBER Working Papers 13049, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. repec:reg:rpubli:282 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Sonalde Desai & Soumya Alva, 1998. "Maternal education and child health: Is there a strong causal relationship?," Demography, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 71-81, February.
    8. W. Kip Viscusi & Joseph E. Aldy, 2003. "The Value of a Statistical Life: A Critical Review of Market Estimates throughout the World," NBER Working Papers 9487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Liu, Jin-Tan & Hammitt, James K. & Liu, Jin-Long, 1997. "Estimated hedonic wage function and value of life in a developing country," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 57(3), pages 353-358, December.
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