Journal of Risk and Uncertainty

, Volume 33, Issue 1–2, pp 13–36 | Cite as

National survey evidence on disasters and relief: Risk beliefs, self-interest, and compassion

  • W. Kip ViscusiEmail author
  • Richard J. Zeckhauser


A nationally representative sample of respondents estimated their fatality risks from four types of natural disasters, and indicated whether they favored governmental disaster relief. For all hazards, including auto accident risks, most respondents assessed their risks as being below average, with one-third assessing them as average. Individuals from high-risk states, or with experience with disasters, estimate risks higher, though by less than reasonable calculations require. Four-fifths of our respondents favor government relief for disaster victims, but only one-third do for victims in high-risk areas. Individuals who perceive themselves at higher risk are more supportive of government assistance.


Disaster Risk belief Disaster relief Compassion Efficient compassion Hurricane Flood Terrorism National Survey Lorenz Curve 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University Distinguished Professor of Law, Economics, and ManagementVanderbilt UniversityNashville
  2. 2.Kennedy School of Govt.Harvard UniversityCambridge

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