From the Political Fallout of Natural Disasters - post on Wonkblog. The politics of designing resiliency and preparedness into communities seems to be a daunting challenge.
"So as voters, are we absolved of the charge of responding irrationally to natural disasters? The evidence suggests that the answer is “yes,” at least if the question is about disaster responses. But natural disasters aren’t just about responding —they are also about planning and preparation. And there, the evidence is less sanguine about our capacity as voters to reward politicians for acting in our interests.
In another article, Healy and Malhotra examine whether voters reward spending on disaster preparedness alongside spending on disaster relief. As it turns out, we don’t. We reward spending to respond to disasters by backing incumbents more strongly, but we shrug when it comes to spending to get us ready for a disaster down the road. They also estimate that a dollar spent on disaster preparedness reduces subsequent damage by $15, making such investments highly cost-effective.
Natural disasters capture America’s attention, and understandably so. As voters, we pay attention in the wake of disasters, and we reward or punish incumbents based on their actions. But when the cameras are elsewhere, we’re not nearly as good about rewarding the incumbents who are getting ready for the next disaster."