January, 2009

Building Walls Against Bad Infrastructure Policy In New Orleans

  • Peter Gordon

    Mercatus Center Affiliated Senior Scholar
  • Richard Little

    Director, Keston Institute for Public Finance and Infrastructure Policy, University of Southern California
Key materials
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Simply rebuilding the existing levees in New Orleans to make them stronger will not protect the city from catastrophe in the future. More comprehensive approaches will provide decision makers at all levels—from elected officials to individual homeowners—with incentives to manage flood risk effectively.

This Policy Primer offers guidance for developing more rational government policies for flood protection, approaches that stop subsidizing risky behavior. The rebuilding process in New Orleans allows local areas to explore new options for levee development and management beyond the conventional reliance on federal agencies. Reliance on federal funds and bureaucracies diminishes the incentives for a local community to accurately understand its risk to natural disasters. Instead, institutional flexibility will help ensure that the most appropriate arrangements emerge. Only then will the cost of natural disasters, in both lives and dollars, start to decline.

Citation (Chicago Style):

Gordon, Peter and Richard Little. "Building Walls Against Bad Infrastructure Policy In New Orleans." Mercatus Policy Series, Policy Primer No. 10. Arlington, VA: Mercatus Center at George Mason University, January 2009.