Friday, April 17, 2009

Ten Disaster Myths

Good Info here.  I will call attention to one specific thing:

"Myth Number 3: Disasters Affect Us All

Fact: Disasters are neither fair nor blind. Disasters have a strong prejudice against the poor. "I never fought a fire in a rich person's home," a veteran firefighter once told me."

There are two possible explanations for this.

Economic Calculation:  Poor people have fewer possessions, and their house is worth less, so the payoff to investing in fire prevention is smaller.

Social Explanation:  Poor people do not have the ability and/or discipline to prepare for events with a low probability of happening.  They do not understand how their actions affect the chances of disaster.

2 comments:

e said...

I'm not sure that being poor would necessarily mean one doesn't have as good ability or discipline to prepare for disaster events. Maybe poor just can't afford the preparation. Maybe by virtue of just being rich, one is already prepared, because the things one chooses to buy/use are better quality, whether or not one thinks about it. The materials used in a poor person's domicile are often more flammable/less fire resistant than those in high end homes. Those materials may be all that's available under their budget.

The rich might go for the stuff seen as higher status materials rather than "disasterproof". These may have gained their 'high status' and price point because through the ages people (subconsciously or not) understood that they last, but I doubt fireproofing is on the mind of many, even rich, when the choice is between italian marble and wall-wall carpet....

Interesting to see that men are more likely to die in floods/storms because they don't leave til it's REAL bad. Matches up with those men who put off going to the doctor until the pain is excruciating or the heart stops beating!

Richard Bruns said...

Obviously I lean toward the economic explanation. Economists generally assume that all people are equally rational. Buying things made of fireproof materials, and taking the time and expense to make the house more fireproof, take scarce resources. The payoff to this activity goes down if you have less stuff worth protecting, so the rational response is to not bother.