Overcoming Policy Myopia: Personal Exposure, Voter Ignorance, and Disaster Policy Preferences

42 Pages Posted: 16 Dec 2019

See all articles by Michael M. Bechtel

Michael M. Bechtel

Washington University in St. Louis

Massimo Mannino

University of St. Gallen

Date Written: November 28, 2019

Abstract

Societies can address collective threats by investing in preparedness (ex ante) or by providing financial assistance after an adverse event has occurred (ex post). What explains which of these options publics prefer? Existing research suggests that personal exposure to adverse events should have powerful effects on the willingness to support preparedness investment. We study mass preferences over disaster preparedness which is meant to addresses an increasingly destructive and frequent class of events. We find that neither subjective nor geo-coded measures of disaster exposure explain policy preferences. Using two experiments we then explore whether knowledge about the economic features of preparedness investment affect voter preferences. We find that higher effectiveness and lower costs significantly increase the willingness to invest in disaster resilience. These results suggest that the ability of democracies to overcome policy myopia may depend more on voter ignorance than on whether individuals have personal experience with adverse events.

Keywords: Policy Myopia, Long-Term Policy Problems, Disaster Policy, Affectedness, Voter Ignorance, Survey Experiment, Preparedness Investment

JEL Classification: C22, H71, H72

Suggested Citation

Bechtel, Michael M. and Mannino, Massimo, Overcoming Policy Myopia: Personal Exposure, Voter Ignorance, and Disaster Policy Preferences (November 28, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3494976 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3494976

Michael M. Bechtel (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis ( email )

Campus Box 1063
One Brookings Drive
Saint Louis, MO 63130-4899
United States

Massimo Mannino

University of St. Gallen ( email )

Langgasse 1
St. Gallen, 9008
Switzerland

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