In recent years, the number of presidential declarations of “major disasters” has skyrocketed. Such declarations make stricken areas eligible for federal emergency relief funds that greatly reduce their costs. But is federalizing the costs of disasters helping to lighten the overall burden of disasters or is it making matters worse? Does it remove incentives for individuals and local communities to take measures to protect themselves? Are people more likely to invest in property in hazardous locations in the belief that, if worse comes to worst, the federal government will bail them out?
Disasters and Democracy addresses the political response to natural disasters, focusing specifically on the changing role of the federal government from distant observer to immediate responder and principal financier of disaster costs.