Catastrophic Risk: Waking Up to the Reality of a Pandemic?

37 Pages Posted: 10 Apr 2020

See all articles by Jamison Pike

Jamison Pike

EcoHealth Alliance

Jason F. Shogren

University of Wyoming

David Aadland

Utah State University

W. Kip Viscusi

Vanderbilt University - Law School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Vanderbilt University - Department of Economics; Vanderbilt University - Owen Graduate School of Management; Vanderbilt University - Strategy and Business Economics

David Finnoff

University of Wyoming

Alexandre M. Skiba

University of Kansas - School of Business

Peter Daszak

EcoHealth Alliance

Date Written: March 27, 2020

Abstract

Will a major shock awaken US citizens to the threat of catastrophic pandemic risk? Using a natural experiment administered both before and after the 2014 West African Ebola Outbreak, our evidence suggests “no”. Our results show that prior to the Ebola scare, US citizens were relatively complacent and placed a low relative priority on public spending to prepare for a pandemic disease outbreak relative to an environmental disaster risk (e.g., Fukushima) or a terrorist attack (e.g., 9/11). After the Ebola scare, the average citizen did not over-react to the risk. This flat reaction was unexpected given the well-known availability heuristic—people tend to over-weigh judgments of events more heavily toward more recent information. In contrast, the average citizen continued to value pandemic risk less relative to terrorism or environmental risk.

Keywords: Risk, Behavioral, Pandemic, Ebola, COVID-19

JEL Classification: Q95, H12, H41, D03

Suggested Citation

Pike, Jamison and Shogren, Jason F. and Aadland, David and Viscusi, W. Kip and Finnoff, David and Skiba, Alexandre (Sasha) Mykolajovych and Daszak, Peter, Catastrophic Risk: Waking Up to the Reality of a Pandemic? (March 27, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3565451 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3565451

Jamison Pike

EcoHealth Alliance ( email )

460 W 34th St.
Fl 17
New York, NY New York 10001
United States

Jason F. Shogren (Contact Author)

University of Wyoming ( email )

Department of Economics
BU292
Laramie, WY 82071-3985
United States
307-766-5430 (Phone)
307-766-5090 (Fax)

David Aadland

Utah State University

W. Kip Viscusi

Vanderbilt University - Law School ( email )

131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States
615-343-7715 (Phone)
615-322-5953 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://law.vanderbilt.edu/faculty/viscusi.htm

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Vanderbilt University - Department of Economics

Box 1819 Station B
Nashville, TN 37235
United States
(615) 343-7715 (Phone)
(615) 343-5953 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://law.vanderbilt.edu/faculty/viscusi.htm

Vanderbilt University - Owen Graduate School of Management

401 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203
United States
(615) 343-7715 (Phone)
(615) 343-5953 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://law.vanderbilt.edu/faculty/viscusi.htm

Vanderbilt University - Strategy and Business Economics ( email )

Nashville, TN 37203
United States

David Finnoff

University of Wyoming ( email )

1000 E University Ave
Laramie, WY 82071
United States

Alexandre (Sasha) Mykolajovych Skiba

University of Kansas - School of Business ( email )

1300 Sunnyside Avenue
Lawrence, KS 66045
United States

Peter Daszak

EcoHealth Alliance ( email )

460 W 34th St.
Fl 17
New York, NY New York 10001
United States

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