Why Do Voters Reward Poor Disaster Preparedness?
Politicians reap higher electoral benefits from doling out disaster relief money than they do from spending money beforehand on disaster prevention. According to a new paper by Andrew Healy, an economist at Loyola Marymount University, that creates an incentive for governments to underprepare for natural disasters.
So if voters reward poor preparedness, Healy writes, the American voter “bears some responsibility” for the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina and other disasters that were made worse by poor prevention efforts.
Healy finds that, on average, every $1 spent on disaster mitigation prevents roughly $8 of disaster damage over the following five years. But in most cases, voters shun politicians who call for more investment in infrastructure and other disaster preparedness efforts when the skies are clear.
(Hat tip: Overcoming Bias)