Just released! Natural Hazards, Unnatural Disasters. Nov 2010

The joint World Bank-United Nations’ Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) just released an ambitious report. Dr. Michel-Kerjan was one of the contributors to background studies used to write this report.

The Earthquakes, droughts, floods, and storms are natural hazards, but unnatural disasters are the deaths and damages that result from human acts of omission and commission. Every disaster is unique, but each exposes actions—by individuals and governments at different levels—that, had they been different, would have resulted in fewer deaths and less damage. Prevention is possible, and this book examines what it takes to do this cost-effectively.

Natural Hazards, UnNatural Disasters looks at disasters primarily through an economic lens. Economists emphasize self-interest to explain how people choose the amount of prevention, insurance, and coping. But lenses can distort as well as sharpen images, so the book also draws from other disciplines: psychology to examine how people may misperceive risks, political science to understand voting patterns, and nutrition science to see how stunting in children after a disaster impairs cognitive abilities and productivity as adults much later. It asks not only the tough questions, but some unexpected ones as well: Should all disasters be prevented? Do disasters increase or decrease conflict? Does foreign aid help or hinder prevention? The answers are not obvious. Peering into the future, it finds that growing cities and a changing climate will shape the disaster prevention landscape. While it is cautious about the future, it is not alarmist.

More about the project: CLICK HERE

Praises for the book:

“Fascinating and right on target….rebuilding is not just of the physical world but also the much tougher job of rebuilding trust and social capital….You are doing very important work.”
—Elinor Ostrom, Nobel Prize in Economics, 2009

“An excellent piece of work with really practical lessons that will influence the way disasters are handled—and indeed prevented… [it] could make a gigantic difference to the lives of vulnerable people. I welcome it warmly.”
—Amartya Sen, Nobel Prize in Economics, 1998

“Careful, thoughtful, studious….responses will be more effective, before and after the event, and damage will be less if governments, relief organizations, and others learn from this study.”
—Robert M. Solow, Nobel Prize in Economics, 1987.

“A remarkable combination of case studies, data on many scales, and the application of economic principles…[this report] provides a deep understanding of the relative roles of the market, government intervention, and social institutions in determining and improving both the prevention and the response to hazardous occurrences. “
—Kenneth J. Arrow, Nobel Prize in Economics, 1972

I strongly recommend this book to non-economists as well as economists, and to government officials who must cope with floods, oil spills, earthquakes, and other disasters….”
—Gary S. Becker, Nobel Prize in Economics, 1992