Could humanitarian aid cause governments to under-invest in disaster prevention, causing natural disasters to have worse effects? If so, then past disaster relief could induce worst disaster outcomes now (And I thought MY ideas were unpopular)
The amount of news coverage of disasters is heavily influenced by the country’s popularity with US tourists.
News coverage is also higher when there are no other big competing news stories. This variation in news coverage is unrelated to need, of course, but has a major effect on the amount of disaster relief aid.
How does this likely affect aid to Haiti for the earthquake? News coverage has been high from major media, and aid flows seem likely to be high. (Although Haiti doesn’t pass the much more severe test of making ongoing headlines in my hometown newspaper, the Bowling Green (OH) Sentinel-Tribune, where today’s headline is about a new stoplight.) Still aid could have been even higher if Haiti were very central to US strategic interests (imagine an earthquake destroying Kabul) or a major US tourist destination (a Cancun earthquake that killed US tourists might even get covered in Bowling Green, triggering even larger relief aid).