Regulating Fear: The Case of Ebola in the United States
7 Pages Posted: 23 Oct 2014
Date Written: October 21, 2014
A rash of recent news stories have documented Americans’ increasing fear of Ebola. That fear is unpleasant, and it can be costly and even dangerous. But it can also provide an opportunity for the government officials who will be coordinating the federal response to the risk of outbreak.
This short paper proposes a new way to think constructively about public fear. It argues that public fear presents regulators and government officials with the chance to help fear do what it is supposed to do: encourage people to pay attention to the things that imperil them. Regulators and government officials can battle Ebola — or indeed, any other highly dreaded risk — by identifying behaviors that can help individuals take control of their fears, while getting a kick-start to action that is “just as well” to do anyway.
Keywords: Regulation, risk communication, fear, ebola, dread
JEL Classification: I18, K32, D81, K2
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation