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Natural disasters occur in a political space. Although events beyond the control may trigger a disaster, the level of government preparedness and response greatly determines the extent of suffering incurred by the affected population. The authors use a political economy model of disaster prevention, supported by case studies and preliminary empirics to explain why some governments prepare well for disasters and others do not. They show how the presence of international aid distorts this choice and increases the chance that governments will under-invest. Policy suggestions that may alleviate this problem are discussed.
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