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Published in: Public Choice 3-4/2024

14-01-2024

Natural disasters and voter gratitude: What is the role of prevention policies?

Authors: Carla Morvan, Sonia Paty

Published in: Public Choice | Issue 3-4/2024

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Abstract

Natural disasters and related prevention policies can affect voter decisions. In this study, we analyze how the occurrence of natural disasters changes voter behavior in municipal elections and how prevention policies can mitigate the impact of such catastrophic events on budget accounts and might potentially be rewarded by citizens in upcoming elections. We exploit original data on French municipalities where incumbents sought re-election between 2008 and 2020. To estimate the probability of re-election at the municipal level in the event of a natural disaster we apply a Heckman model based strategy to avoid selection bias. We find that the occurrence of a natural disaster significantly decreases the chances of re-election of incumbent mayors. However, although we show that natural hazard prevention plans can mitigate the impact of catastrophic events on budget accounts, they are not rewarded by citizens in upcoming elections. The myopia hypothesis is confirmed by our findings: voters reward incumbents for delivering investment spending or decreasing debt but not for investing in disaster preparedness.

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Appendix
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Footnotes
2
The mayor of La Faute-sur-Mer in France received a 2 year prison sentence for manslaughter following storm Xynthia which resulted in the deaths of 29 inhabitants.
 
3
According to article 1 of the July 13, 1982 law, “the effects of natural disasters should be regarded as direct non-insurable material damage caused by the abnormal intensity of a natural agent as its determining cause, where the usual measures to be taken to avoid such damage could not prevent its occurrence or could not be taken”. Source: Ministry of the Interior.
 
4
Inter-municipal communities are unions of several municipalities to enable collective financing and management of some local public services. Currently, all French municipalities are grouped within larger jurisdictions (known as ‘Etablissements Publics de Coopération Intercommunale’ or EPCI in French).
 
5
We use the inverse hyperbolic sine transformation the inverse hyperbolic sine transformation which allows minimum loss of data during the transformation.
 
6
We assume that since in 2008 very few municipalities (6,713 i.e. 20% of municipalities) had an NHHP, natural hazard prevention had not become a major issue for local residents.
 
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Metadata
Title
Natural disasters and voter gratitude: What is the role of prevention policies?
Authors
Carla Morvan
Sonia Paty
Publication date
14-01-2024
Publisher
Springer US
Published in
Public Choice / Issue 3-4/2024
Print ISSN: 0048-5829
Electronic ISSN: 1573-7101
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11127-023-01137-x

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