University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
May 3, 2012
[...] A team of researchers recently completed a Department of Homeland Security-funded study that assesses the regional economic impacts of a hypothetical catastrophic event like a radiological dispersal device (RDD) attack or a “dirty bomb” attack on Los Angeles’ financial district compared to a natural disaster like an earthquake. Such an attack has the potential to cause radioactive fallout across the city and surrounding areas—thereby causing a mass exodus and significant damage to commerce. [...]
Fear causes a “dampening effect on the economy,” according to [Adam Rose, who studied the major economic impacts of the disaster], which would mean ripple effects as costs increase that impact demand for goods, prices and quantities of products. The public’s fear has the potential to cost 15 times more than the original wreckage and clean-up.
[...] Carefully crafting messages to both advise the public and alleviate fears not only helps to prevent panic, but also helps to prevent long-term economic harm. Anything that can be done from a policy standpoint to reduce excessive fear from the public has considerable benefits.
“Anything we can do from a policy standpoint that can reduce excessive public concern about an event has huge economic benefits,” said [William Burns, a decision research scientist at California State San Marcos]. “We’re not trying to bamboozle the public. We want them to believe the truth based on expert, objective people.”
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