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Do public administrators have the same preferences for risk reductions as citizens?
Karlstad University, Faculty of Economic Sciences, Communication and IT, Department of Economics and Statistics.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9667-2260
Karlstad University, Faculty of Economic Sciences, Communication and IT, Department of Economics and Statistics.
2010 (English)Conference paper, (Refereed)
Abstract

In this paper we compare the preferences of the general public with the preferences of public administrators working in the area of safety. We are interested in three different aspects of risk reductions: (i) large versus small accidents, (ii) actual versus subjective risks, and (iii) trade-off between avoiding fatalities and injuries for different age groups. We use stated preference surveys where respondents assume the role of a policy maker. In particular, respondents were asked to choose between different public infrastructure projects that resulted in different outcomes. When responding they were asked to take the role of a public policy-maker.



For the general public, we use survey responses from two mail questionnaires sent out between May and June 2007 to a random sample of 1400 and 2600 Swedish citizens. For the administrators, we used survey responses from an internet survey sent out in September 2008 to a random sample of 330 administrators. The administrators were working in the field of fire and rescue services both in the national and local level.



Large and small accidents

The question concerned the choice between avoiding one large accident with many deaths, or many smaller accidents with fewer dead people per accident. Both projects would in total save an equal number of lives.



A large fraction of the citizens are indifferent to both projects, but the most common response is that many small accidents should be avoided instead of one large accident. Among the administrators, there is almost an equal split between preferring to avoid many small and one large accident, and fewer think that the two projects are equally good. Thus, administrators are more likely to choose the project that will avoid one large accident, and they are less likely to say that the two projects are equally good.



Actual versus perceived risks

Respondents were asked to choose between projects with different effects on the actual and perceived risks. In one case, peoples perception of the risk is correct. In the other case people overestimate the risk. A majority of both citizens and administrators chose the alternative where the actual and subjective risk decreases in equal ratio, but a higher percentage of administrators (over 30 %) opt for the alternative where the decrease in subjective risk is higher.



Saving different groups

We find that saving the life of 1.43 10-year olds is equivalent to saving one 40-year-old from dying in accidents. Likewise, saving the life of one 70-year-old is equivalent to saving 3.31 10-year olds from dying. The social marginal substitution rate between saving a life and avoiding a serious injury is between 3.2 and 3.8 for the different age groups, thus one saved life is equivalent to avoiding around 3.5 seriously injured, which is significantly lower than the officially used value of 6 by the Swedish Road Administration. We find only a few differences between citizens and administrators preferences with respect to different age groups.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010.
National Category
Economics
Research subject
Economics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-9715OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-9715DiVA: diva2:493217
Conference
ECHE2010, 8th European Conference on Health Economics, 7-10 July 2010 at Finlandia Hall, Helsinki, Finland
Available from: 2012-02-08 Created: 2012-02-08 Last updated: 2015-01-29Bibliographically approved

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