Earthquake fatalities : the interaction of nature and political economy

Anbarci, Nejat, Escaleras, Monica and Register, Charles A. 2005, Earthquake fatalities : the interaction of nature and political economy, Journal of public economics, vol. 89, no. 9-10, pp. 1907-1933, doi: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2004.08.002.

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Title Earthquake fatalities : the interaction of nature and political economy
Author(s) Anbarci, NejatORCID iD for Anbarci, Nejat
Escaleras, Monica
Register, Charles A.
Journal name Journal of public economics
Volume number 89
Issue number 9-10
Start page 1907
End page 1933
Total pages 27
Publisher Elsevier
Place of publication Amsterdam, Netherlands
Publication date 2005-09
ISSN 0047-2727
Summary To say that the level of fatalities resulting from an earthquake is inversely related to a country's per capita level of income is hardly novel. What makes our approach novel is that we relate fatalities to both per capita income and the level of inequality that exists within a country through their joint impact on the likelihood of collective action being taken to mitigate the destructive potential of quakes. We first develop a theoretical model which offers an explanation as to why, in some environments, different segments of society prove incapable of arriving at what all parties perceive to be an agreeable distribution of the burden of the necessary collective action, causing the relatively wealthy simply to self-insure against the disaster while leaving the relatively poor to its mercy. Following this, we test our theoretical model by evaluating 269 large earthquakes occurring worldwide, between 1960 and 2002, taking into account other factors that influence a quake's destructiveness such as its magnitude, depth and proximity to population centers. Using a Negative Binomial estimation strategy with both random and fixed estimators, we find strong evidence of the theoretical model's predictions. That is, while earthquakes themselves are natural phenomena beyond the reach of humankind, our collective inaction with respect to items like the creation and enforcement of building codes, failure to retrofit structures and to enact quake-sensitive zoning clearly plays a part in determining the actual toll that a given quake takes. And, it is through these and other examples of collective inaction that limited per capita income and inequality couple together with a given quake's natural destructive power in determining the actual fatalities resulting from a quake.
Language eng
DOI 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2004.08.002
Field of Research 140303 Economic Models and Forecasting
140219 Welfare Economics
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2004, Elsevier
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Document type: Journal Article
Collections: Faculty of Business and Law
School of Accounting, Economics and Finance
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