|M.Sc Student||Friedler Lili|
|Subject||Irrationality in the Public Preparedness for Earthquakes:|
An Empirical Analysis of the Israeli Case
|Department||Department of Architecture and Town Planning||Supervisor||Dr. Danny Ben-Shahar|
|Full Thesis text - in Hebrew|
Fundamental economic theory accords the individual the ability to make decisions in a rational-systematic manner in order to maximize utility. Nonetheless, individual preferences and decisions occasionally seem to violate these rationality axioms (e.g., Tversky and Kahneman, 1974, 1981).
Most existing studies are based on rational economic behavior, as well as on objective measures (such as prices), whereas the impact of individual subjective evaluation has not been thoroughly examined. Consequently, empirical support for the impact of subjective evaluation (as opposed to objective measures) is missing. The proposed study attempts to fill this void.
In this study, we examine various expressions of irrational behavior, particularly decision making when preparing for earthquakes. Specifically, we test whether individual perception of earthquake risk (and readiness to engage in proactive hazard mitigation) is in line with actual risk assessed by specialists.
We further examine the factors influencing individual readiness to take active protective measures. In so doing, we propose a novel method for measuring subjective risk assessment of earthquakes.
The research hypothesis positing that Israelis underestimate prospective damage, meaning that subjective assessments will be found to be lower than the objective scales, is refuted. Nevertheless, our results indicate that higher objective risk of earthquake occurrence associates with higher subjective assessment of risk by women. On the other hand, men estimate the risk as being relatively lower when evaluated in a high objective risk area. Independently, female subjective risk assessment is found to be significantly higher.
Among other empirical outcomes, we find that religiously orthodox and ultra-orthodox male subjective assessment is lower; female subjective assessments are lower among those living in newer (post-1980) buildings; and subjective risk assessments are higher among condominium residents as opposed to private residences. Moreover, examination of the willingness to adopt National Outline Plan 38 (NOP38) and socio-demographic characteristics show that female willingness to adopt the plan is statistically higher.
Finally, the hypothesis that our proposed method for evaluating subjective risk assessment will positively correlate with the traditional method, is statistically confirmed. This provides a methodological contribution to the existing earthquake literature.
Results of this study could ultimately lead to a refined public policy that promotes government preparedness for hazards.