Do voters effectively hold elected officials accountable for policy decisions? Using data on natural disasters, government spending, and election returns, we show that voters reward the incumbent presidential party for delivering disaster relief spending, but not for investing in disaster preparedness spending. These inconsistencies distort the incentives of public officials, leading the government to underinvest in disaster preparedness, thereby causing substantial public welfare losses. We estimate that $1 spent on preparedness is worth about $15 in terms of the future damage it mitigates. By estimating both the determinants of policy decisions and the consequences of those policies, we provide more complete evidence about citizen competence and government accountability
Copyright 2009 American Political Science Association
Available on publisher's site at http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=6101720
Healy, Andrew, and Malhorta, Neil. "Myopic Voters and Natural Disaster Policy." American Political Science Review 103 (2009): 387-406.