The Economics Of Disaster Relief

September 25, 2013 in Daily Bulletin

The sad events in Pakistan led Joshua Keating to write about the economics of disaster relief:

  • When disasters happen donor attention and media coverage seem to be driven by the number of people killed.
  • Each additional person killed in a disaster leads to an extra $9,000 in donations.
  • TV coverage also depends on the area of the world the event is taking place in.
  • A 1980s study found that Western Europeans received 9.2 minutes of coverage per 1,000 deaths. For Latin Americans it was 1.02, and Asians it was 0.76.
  • This means that the death of an Italian is roughly speaking equal to the death of 3 Romanians, 9 Latin Americans, 11 Middle Easterners and 12 Asians.
  • However deaths aren’t the best metric by which to measure a disaster. People should instead focus on the number of people affected or those in need.

Read more about how this donor bias can be alleviated, examples of the differing response to disasters, and more over here.

Source: Slate, Foreign Policy